How to Raise Your Daughter’s Self-Esteem

Idaughtern this day and age, the pressure on young girls is immense and their self-esteem is taking the brunt.  A recent poll of moms and daughters found that 41% of young girls think they’re pretty and that 58% of girls worry about their weight. 40% of moms don’t think they’re beautiful and 55% of moms complain about their looks, many times in front of their daughters.  So, what does this say?  That it’s not only societal pressure that pushes unhealthy expectations on girls but the messages they get at home are equally damaging.  So what can you do to improve your daughter’s self-esteem? 


The biggest thing you can do is to be honest and talk with your daughter about the pressure to be pretty and thin. Watch TV with her and talk about the things you see, because helping her to develop a critical eye to filter messages from the media is going to be a cornerstone of building her self-image.   Talk about the qualities she has that transcend the ideals of beauty, like being good at math or soccer.  Maybe she’s hilarious and has great comic timing.  Whatever your particular child is good at and is interested in should be encouraged as much as possible and the focus needs to be taken off superficial things like outer beauty or physical perfection.

Treat Yourself

You and your family should eat right, because if you feel good inside then you’ll feel good outside too.  Do activities together as a family that promotes physical exercise and activity.  Most importantly, learn to be kind to yourself so that you don’t demonstrate negative self-talk that your child will then internalize.  In other words, model body acceptance for her.

Give Her a Voice

You shouldn’t raise your daughter to be a pleaser.  She should be encouraged to stand up for what she needs and wants.  You can help her do this by creating opportunities for her to use her voice.  Ask her what she wants, let her make a choice and then honor that choice.

Praise Effort, Not Performance

Another key thing to do in order to build self-esteem in your child is to focus less on the outcome and more on her efforts.  That way she’ll be encouraged to develop new skills and the mastery of things is what builds confidence.  Not to mention that learning to tolerate failure nurtures flexibility.

Dads: Don’t Rescue Your Daughters

Father’s should not treat daughters as if they are fragile or helpless because that sends a message that they need a man to save them.  So, teach them how to change a flat, play sports, brush herself off and get back up.  If you would do it with your son, you should do it with your daughter too.

Love Her

The most important thing you can do to foster a healthy self-esteem in your daughter is to let her know that no matter what you love her.  End of story.

Used under Creative Commons Licensing courtesy of Donald Jusa

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