Magazines, social media, digital touch ups of women, it makes growing up even harder for young women and for parents, raising girls to have high self-esteem is even more challenging.
According to Beautiful Minds, Australia’s leading provider of confidence and self-esteem education for young women aged 11-17, the average year 8 girl experiences the same level of anxiety as a mental patient in the 1950’s! Now that’s a statistic that is truly frightening!
But even with the current culture and its pressures, parents still do have much influence over how their daughters perceive themselves through what they say, what they do and through providing support. Here are some ways young girls can be supported:
It’s easy to forget but Mums have a huge impact on how their daughters see themselves. When a girl sees her mother critiquing her own appearance or obsessing over weight, this can easily rub off.
Media is everywhere, on TV, magazines, newspaper, websites and social media. It’s very easy for young girls to take everything at face value, they are unable to properly filter messages or use a critical eye. Take the time to sit with your daughter and talk about what it is she’s seeing, help her decode the messages and to develop a critical eye to ascertain what is real and what is not.
It’s important to raise your daughter as someone that is not reliant on others and doesn’t need to be anyone else but herself. Encourage your daughter to stand up for exactly what it is she wants in life. It should be her choice and no one else.
Encourage your daughter to play sports, but not any sports, team sports. Why team sports? Because being in a team of girls means they look to each other to find their worth instead of looking for validation from boys or other places.
The other benefit of being involved in sports is that it moves your daughter away from needing to build skills that are dependent on her appearance. Playing a sport or perhaps getting involved with some other form of extra curricular activity such as playing a musical instrument, focuses on building confidence and also helps her express herself through other avenues besides appearance.
Move the focus away from praising your daughter on her appearance and instead focus on providing compliments on what she actually does and achieves.
Your favourite magazine might be Vogue or Harpers Bazaar but remember, it’s very easy for your teenage daughter to compare herself to the images she sees in here. Be mindful of the magazines you have floating around your home.
It’s easy for dads to treat their daughters as though they need protecting, as though they are princesses waiting to be swept off their feet and/or saved by a man. But really, this isn’t doing daughters any favours. Give your daughter the opportunity to do things for herself, just like a son would.
There are few great role models in the world for our girls so why not be one? Inspire her and support her as much as possible.
As a parent you won’t always have the answers and that’s OK. The next best thing is to be able to direct your daughter to tools such as support programs or online hubs so she can get the support she needs.
Founder of Beautiful Minds Marina Passalaris says of their BU Online hub aimed at providing inspirational and educational content for girls, “Our teens should have access to inspirational and useful content by a trusted source. We work with the best psychologists in the business to ensure all our wording and content is constantly updated and girls have tools they can actually use.”
In addition to the online hub, Beautiful Minds also run signature programs, a special two-day course where a small group of teen girls get to work with our team of educators in a safe space. They are run in 8 locations around Australia and have had remarkable results.
It’s so important that your daughter knows that it’s not what she looks like, what she wears or how she does things that measure the level of your love. Your daughter needs to know that you love her no matter what.