How to Raise a Daughter to Have Healthy Self Esteem

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Women have come a long way in modern culture and society. With the right encouragement and a drive to succeed, your daughter can grow up to be anything she wants. Unfortunately, women and girls tend to be on the losing side of the self-esteem battle and this is something many attribute to not only our society but the media’s pressure on women as well.

Self-esteem is related to how we feel about our bodies, our minds, and our place in the larger world. Girls’ self-worth generally peaks around nine or ten years old, but then it sharply declines when they hit their preteen and teenage years. Media outlets such as television, music, and magazines can have a negative effect on girls’ self-image and sense of self-worth. Societal pressures to look, act, or be a certain way can stifle a girl’s view of herself. By giving our daughters encouragement, love, and the right perspective, we can arm them with the tools they need to grow up happy, healthy, and confident women.

Parents have a very strong influence on how their children grow up. How you talk and act around your daughters can have a major effect on how she views women and herself. Both moms and dads can act as good role models for their girls to help them feel confident in their views and their abilities. Discourage gender stereotypes in the household; let sons do the dishes and ask your daughters to mow the lawn or help change a light bulb. Watch how you talk about yourself in their presence. If you feel negatively about yourself, even in a small way, and voice these opinions, chances are your daughters will learn this behavior from you. Loving yourself and being proud of your accomplishments is the very first step to instilling your daughters with a healthy sense of self-esteem.

Give your daughters encouragement both vocally and by allowing them to explore their own talents and interests. A woman’s self-esteem should not have to center around her physical appearance. Praise your daughters for their accomplishments, for thinking independently and speaking their minds, and for just being themselves. Celebrate their unique strengths, hobbies, and achievements with the whole family. When your daughters feel free to explore without being judged, they will learn to feel confident in doing what they love. It is good to discuss the various contributions women in history have made, so that your daughters know they can pursue any dream they want. Whether your girls are into sports, astronomy, medicine, or cooking, you can find fun and interesting women to learn about. By helping them set goals and explore, you can help foster a sense of wonder, pride, and self-esteem in your daughters as they grow up.

Even if you have given it your all and have done as much as you can to help your daughter to love and respect her body, it may be helpful to have her talk to a therapist if the situation appears to progressively worsen. Often therapy can help replace negative body image thoughts with positive ones. Additionally, sometimes therapists recommend other types of therapy to help give strength to these body positive thoughts through methods like listening to hypnosis cds and posting positive affirmations on the mirrors in the house.
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