Research shows us that our girls come strong and confident but around the age of 9 or 10 things start to take a downward turn for their self esteem and body image. Why? Because it is then that society stops focusing on ABILITIES and starts focusing on APPEARANCE. Yikes! This takes them into the preteen and teen years with a lower belief in themselves. Feelings of inferiority abound and if not nipped in the bud, things just get worse and worse.
SO what can we do?
First, we have to “Tell them we believe in them.”
We have to say it to them multiple times a day, no matter if they are passing their math tests or making the sports team, or not. Self esteem is directly related to unconditional love and we need to be loving without boundaries. We also know that when we look at really successful people, they all tend to have something in common, regardless of what they are successful in. They all report that their parents believed in them! So TELL your girls you believe in them too.
Second, it is time to “Minimize the Princess.”
Now before you let this one stress you out, we are not saying that princesses and princess stuff are off limits all together. We just might need to tone them down a little. You see, princesses focus on one thing, usually, beauty, which gives our daughters the idea that if they don’t look like them, they aren’t really worth anything. The other problem with too much princess is that it makes it so our girls don’t understand the difference between fantasy and reality. Put those together and you have girls who believe that the only way to have their “happily ever after” is to look like a princess. Which is sooooo far from the truth. In the last few years princesses have started to change for these reasons. So instead of throwing out all the dress up dresses, add some other great things to your daughters lives and when it is time to play pretty princess, focus on the abilities of the princesses more than their appearance.
Third, we have to “Encourage Physical Strength.”
We tend to categorize our boys as physically strong and our girls as physically weak. Time to change that. Our girls are strong in mind AND in body. Two things we can do to help with this? Get them outside to play. Girls tend to choose inside games and we tend to keep them inside while the “boys go out to play.” Encourage them to get outside, play in the dirt, ride bikes, try new things. It is a safe place for them to explore and learn and grow. The other thing we need to do is get our girls into sports. Oh the benefits are enormous. Sports teach us that our bodies are strong and that they can be used for so many other things than just the covers of magazines. They teach girls to appreciate their physical strength and muscles and see the body for its abilities.
Fourth, “Love your body so she loves hers.”
The way we view our bodies will be passed onto our girls, so if we are constantly complaining about our thighs and that we don’t like our nose, they will constantly look for their flaws too. And they will find them and be haunted by them. There are plenty of things we don’t like about ourselves, but in front of our girls is the wrong place to express all of that. Be positive, focus on abilities and be a good example. The rule stands that if we are not monitoring the messages to our girls, we are passing them along. Make sure the messages you are sending are strengthening and focused on the right things.
Next time we will focus on 4 more ways that we can “Raise Successful Daughters.” Until then, love your girls for who they are, with all your might. And remember, we are girls too and it is just as important to love ourselves!
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