In the recent years, various studies have shown that girls are developing a poor body image from a younger age. 5 year olds think they’re fat, 8 year olds are going on diets and 11 year olds are developing eating disorders to match the image of skinny celebrities who are worshipped by modern society. While it’s impossible to shield your daughter from the onslaught of oversexualised models and actresses who fill our television screens on a daily basis, it is possible to build up her self esteem from a young age. Here are some ways to help your daughter develop good self esteem and confidence.
Tell her she’s beautiful. And smart, funny, good-natured…
Every little girl wants to be told that she is beautiful, but don’t just focus on physical attributes when complimenting her. Society tends to place value on women based on the way that they look and parents need to train their daughters to think differently.
Girls need to realise that they’re worth more than just their looks and learn to be proud of their non-physical attributes as well. For example, if she’s a talented piano player, remind her of that as often as you can and if she’s kind and understanding towards her siblings, praise her for that constantly.
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Point out positive female role models
Take time to speak to her about female role models who were known for traits like kindness, intelligence, talent, perseverance or bravery. Too many celebrities are being idolised by young girls these days for all the wrong reasons and it’s essential for parents to teach their daughters about real role models. Role models like Florence Nightingale, Rosa Park, Mother Teresa and Helen Keller are excellent examples.
Pay attention to her
Parents can make their children feel important and loved just by taking the time to listen to them. Make sure you set aside some time everyday to just sit down and listen to what she (or he) has to say. It doesn’t have to be an hour, it can just be 10 or 15 minutes for your child to give you a little recap of her day or tell you about something interesting that happened. When she’s talking, refrain for doing other activities like reading your email or watching the television. Remember to maintain eye contact and show that you genuinely are interested in what your child has to say.
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Set a great example for your child
Always remember that children imitate their parents. If a parent is dieting excessively or constantly put themselves down, children are likely to pick up on that behaviour and do the same. Watch what you say and do around your child. Even simple phrases like “I’m so stupid”, or “I’m so ugly”, can have a big impact on your child and your little girl’s self esteem and confidence. Be the confident adult that you want your child to become.
Teach her how to stay healthy the right way
If your daughter (or son) really does need to lose weight for health reasons, enroll them in a sports or dance class where they can lose weight in a fun environment and make some new friends. Do not encourage extreme diets as this can take a toll on your child both physically and emotionally. Most importantly, do not use the word ‘fat’ and discourage other family members from teasing her about her weight.
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