How do you help your daughter to feel good about herself? Help build her self-esteem with these real tips!
I worked with girls my daughter’s age for years before I ever became a mom. That tween age, right around 9 and 10 is such a critical time in a girl’s life. I knew that, so doing whatever I could to help them get through that period fully intact and with a healthy self-esteem became my life’s work.
Although my work has shifted to supporting women, since my Ayva and her friends are currently in that stage, I’m back to where I started. And I’m really grateful for the experience, because Lawd KNOWS I’m going to need it!
Up until now, things were super easy. Life for kids who are under 8 is pretty easy going. Everybody plays together. Nobody really cares what other kids are wearing or what they look like. Birthday party invites go out to every child in the class. Once they hit 4th grade, things started to change, especially with the girls.
They’re getting older, you know, and they are starting to discover who they really are and what’s important to them. Instead of everyone playing together, girls with similar interests start to hang out a lot. They start to look at boys (or other girls) differently and like them in new way that’s unfamiliar and new to them.
It’s not easy being a tween girl.
When I ran my self-esteem program for girls, I worked with up to 25 girls at a time. I can honestly say that was easier than being responsible for one daughter who belongs to me. There is so much pressure to make sure she’s well adjusted and feels good about herself, and if she grows up and doesn’t feel that way, I would absolutely feel responsible.
Fortunately, Ayva is incredibly chill and not at all as sensitive as I was at her age. She’s adapting to these changes in her social circles, within herself, and even in our family really well. Still, I’m being intentional and proactive about building her up. There are things that I can do, things that I am doing, to head off any esteem issues before they get out of control.
As girls get older, us parents have to do more to support to support them in feeling good about themselves. When Ayva was a tiny girl, I could just tell her she looked pretty in her dress and she would beam, twirling and sashaying for the rest of the day. Now, she needs more substantial support. She’s not a baby anymore.
1. Do things for her.
I’ve been killing myself this year a little bit volunteering in activities that will benefit my daughter. From Girl Scout co-leader to volleyball coach, I’ve stepped up my support game because I know that it will let her know that she’s important and worth it.
2. Do things with her.
Ayva and I enjoy going to the movies and plays together. We’re planning a girl’s trip to Disneyland. We play games, bake, and make crafts. When I spend quality time with her actually doing things, she has a safe space to learn how to engage and interact in different settings and situations. Confidence comes from doing.
3. Have real conversations with her.
I’ve started to have real (age appropriate) talks with my daughter about my hopes and dreams for myself and our family. If I’m excited about something, or feeling frustrated, or sad, I share my feelings with her. She is able to see that it’s normal to have different emotions, and I’m modeling to her how important it is to talk about what you’re feeling.
4. Share your interests with her.
Of course I’m all up in Ayva’s activities, but I also share my activities with her. She helps me with my photography and my business. I’ll talk to her about a book I’m reading. By treating her like a real person who I care enough about to talk to about things other than just regular “mommy” stuff, it helps her to see herself as an important person as well.
5. Ask her for help.
I ask Ayva for help all the time. Once every couple of weeks, I’ll ask her to make dinner for the family, or take care of her little brother. When I had an event for my business recently, I had her come and spend the day with me and help set up and keep things rolling.
Sometimes we’re afraid to give our kids responsibility, but when we do, it shows them that they are capable of doing things. That’s a surefire way to build their esteem.
6. Listen to her.
Ayva is willing to tell me anything about everything as long as I’m listening. Even if you’re daughter isn’t a Chatty Cathy, there are sure to be times when she is open to sharing with you. That’s when you listen. Instead of feeling like I have to use every conversation for a teachable moment or center myself in her experiences, I often just sit back and listen.
I’ll ask questions to make sure she knows I’m truly interested in what she’s sharing, and will bring the conversation up later, too. Knowing that what she has to say is worthy of your undivided attention plants a seed in your girl to know that she is important and that her story matters.