We live in a digital age. This means that our children are spending an immense amount of time on their smart phones, computers, and other portable devices. They also watch a great deal of television. What they see is media that has been digitally mastered to portray women with perfect bodies along with beautiful faces, hair, and skin. Also, think about how much media focuses on fashion trends, where clothes are made for the perfect body. This can have quite an impact on girls, as they are deeply influenced by what they are seeing and hearing every day. Girls begin to believe that they must look perfect to be accepted by their peers.
There is an article from the Child Mind Institute, written by Juliann Garey entitled, 13 Ways to Boost Your Daughter’s Self-Esteem – How to help girls build confidence based on what they can do, not what they look like. This article provides a list of 13 tips to help girls build confidence, including helping your daughter become “media literate.”
From my perspective, a very important point is role-modeling behaviors, particularly from mom or other women who spend time with girls. It’s important to stay away from negative or obsessive behaviors related to weight, appearance, and eating. Girls are watching and hearing everything that is said in media. This can be positively influenced by role models. Who are role-models? The most influential role-model for a girl is her mother. There are others that also strongly influence a girl’s self-esteem. They are anyone that a girl spends time with and admires. These are grandmothers, teachers, caregivers, aunts, godmothers, and others.
Another point that I feel is critical pertains to praising girls. In an article by Grandpa Steve, he talks about the importance of “praise for doing, and praise for being.” When praising girls, it’s important to help them define and build a self-perception of who they are as an individual. Growing up in the fifties and sixties and a Latino family, praising girls was very much about appearance. “You are so pretty.” “What a pretty dress.” “You have such a pretty face.” That was very much a part of the culture. I am thankful, as my mama combined her praise about my appearance with other praise about me, as a person. So, praise about appearance is okay, if it is well proportioned with praise to help a girl form a self-image of who she is as a person.
My granddaughter, that I adore, Belle, is the sweetest girl in the world. I think you would agree, if you met her. (This is not just grandma’s pride.) Belle is also a very pretty girl. On my last visit in April 2017, I was very inspired by my daughter, Vanessa, and how she talks to Belle. I observed Vanessa complimenting Belle more on her behaviors, strengths, and skills. As you consider how you interact with your girl, here are some examples of praise not related to appearance:
- I love you.
- You are a very special girl.
- You are so sweet.
- You are such a smart girl.
- You are so helpful to me.
Stay tuned for more upcoming articles on girls and self-esteem.
Reference: Child Mind Institute, written by Juliann Garey entitled, 13 Ways to Boost Your Daughter’s Self-Esteem – How to help girls build confidence based on what they can do, not what they look like.