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4 Tips to Boost Your Girl's Self-Confidence
Numerous studies show that girls' self-esteem and self-confidence tends to plummet after about age nine as girls enter puberty. Is there any way to promote and increase self esteem and confidence during the earlier years to help pave the way for this important transitional time? The good news is yes, there are things that can be done. Some of them you already know, but a few reminders can't hurt.
1. For one, limit television.
Yes, we've all heard it before, and it's easier said than done, particularly when there are a number of things to be done. However, studies show that programming and advertising can have a negative affect on viewers. Beginning at very young ages, shows geared toward children are mixed with many advertising messages, some subtle, and some not so subtle. While we can't blame the media for everything, we can acknowledge that too much television may negatively affect our children's self esteem and confidence. Children who learn at a young age that food equals happiness, for example, may have problems with body image later in life. Ongoing messages that things are the solutions to problems only exaggerates feelings of low self worth if a child doesn't have the right things. As children age, the "things" can change into a perfect body, and not having the right things can translate into body image problems and other self-destructive behaviors.
2. Provide positive role models.
As girls age, they become increasingly aware of how women around them act and respond to various situations. Women who stuff their anger or express it "sideways" show girls that it's not okay to be angry, stand up for oneself, and be open and honest about their feelings. Young girls learn from this behavior, and internal anger can express itself in feelings of low self-esteem and low confidence. Depression increases, and unexpressed anger can come out in very self-destructive ways, including eating disorders and substance abuse. Unfortunately, many women never learned how to express their feelings in an appropriate manner, because they themselves did not have positive role models. If this is an issue, consider seeking professional help, not only for your own sake, but for those of your children.
3. Encourage learning and education.
Some studies show that girls with a strong educational background are less likely to run into trouble as teens. The more girls know, the better able they are to make decisions. It's also important to encourage learning in math and science. While this is improving, girls are still viewed as less likely to succeed in these areas. Encouragement in these learning areas cannot only promote increased self-confidence, but it can also prepare girls for the changing work environment that relies more and more on technology. Of course, this isn't to say that other areas of learning are less important; only that encouragement in these areas can help provide balance to an education that is still not quite equal.
4. Help young girls try new things and discover their talents.
Learning what we are good at, and being encouraged to follow these directions, can greatly improve self-esteem and self confidence. When talents or dreams are dismissed, this can easily be perceived as a personal rejection. On the other hand, when girls are encouraged to pursue their interests and develop their talents, this gives the message that they are important. Girls who feel valued by their parents and other important figures in their life are less likely to seek validation from other sources, many of which are not the positive influences desired.
Helping your children develop a healthy self-esteem and self confidence is an ongoing process. They will face struggles, and parents and others need to help them figure out ways of dealing with tough times. But as you work on solutions together, you can help young girls develop independence and confidence.
Image Credits: kai4107 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net and Nuchylee / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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