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Girls with Low Self-Esteem: How to Raise Girls with Healthy Self-Esteem (page 2)

By — NYU Child Study Center
Updated on Apr 24, 2014

How can parents help their daughters develop healthy self-esteem?

Although the media, peers, and pop culture influence children, parents still hold more sway than they think when it comes to having an impact on a daughter's developing self-esteem. Here's how parents can help:

  • Monitor your own comments about your self and your daughter.
  • Get dads involved. Girls with active, hardworking dads attend college more often and are more ambitious, more successful in school, more likely to attain careers of their own, less dependent, more self protective, and less likely to date an abusive man.
  • Watch your own stereotypes; let daughters help fix the kitchen sink and let sons help make dinner.
  • Encourage your daughter to speak her mind.
  • Let girls fail - which requires letting them try. Helping them all the time or protecting them, especially if done by dad, can translate into a girl feeling incapable or incompetent.
  • Don't limit girls' choices, let them try math, buy them a chemistry kit. Interest, not just expertise, should be motivation enough.
  • Get girls involved with sports/physical activity, it can reduce their risk of chronic diseases. Female athletes do better academically and have lower school drop-out rates than non-athletes. Regular physical activity can enhance girls' mental health, reduce symptoms of stress and depression, make them feel strong and competent
  • Watch television, movies, and other media with your daughters and sons. Discuss how images of girls are portrayed.
  • Counteract advertisers who take advantage of the typical anxieties and self-doubts of pre-teen and teenage girls by making them feel they need their product to feel "cool." To sensitize them to this trend and to highlight the effect that ads can have on people, discuss the following questions (adapted from the Media Awareness Network) with children:
    1. Do you ever feel bad about yourself for not owning something?
    2. Have you ever felt that people might like you more if you owned a certain item?
    3. Has an ad make you feel that you would like yourself more, or that others would like you more if you owned the product the ad is selling?
    4. Do you worry about your looks? Have you ever felt that people would like you more if your face, body, skin or hair looked different?
    5. Has an ad ever made you feel that you would like yourself more, or others would like you more, if you changed your appearance with the product the ad was selling?

It is within the family that a girl first develops a sense of who she is and who she wants to become. Parents armed with knowledge can create a psychological climate that will enable each girl to achieve her full potential. Parents can help their daughters avoid developing, or overcome, negative feelings about themselves and grow into strong, self-confident women.

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About the NYU Child Study Center

The New York University Child Study Center is dedicated to increasing the awareness of child and adolescent psychiatric disorders and improving the research necessary to advance the prevention, identification, and treatment of these disorders on a national scale. The Center offers expert psychiatric services for children, adolescents, young adults, and families with emphasis on early diagnosis and intervention. The Center's mission is to bridge the gap between science and practice, integrating the finest research with patient care and state-of-the-art training utilizing the resources of the New York University School of Medicine. The Child Study Center was founded in 1997 and established as the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry within the NYU School of Medicine in 2006. For more information, please call us at (212) 263-6622 or visit us at www.aboutourkids.org.

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