Being a teenager is all about learning who you are and where you fit in the world. But when you’re a teenage girl and you are constantly comparing your changing personality and body to celebrities, friends and even your parents your self confidence can suffer leading to a whole host of other issues.
Self confidence is a belief in ones abilities and self worth. It is feeling worth-while and knowing you have the ability to achieve. While confidence and self esteem are different they are closely linked and often true confidence and self esteem go hand in hand.
So why is knowing she has the ability to do things and feeling good about herself important to your teenage daughter? The positive side effects of will help your teenage daughter better navigate her high school years and help form a more solid foundation for adulthood.
Self confident teenager’s better deal with stress and emotional upheaval than there less confidence peers. They are better decision makers and the rates of self harm, destructive drinking, smoking and teen pregnancy all grow exponentially lower as confidence rises. Feeling more sure of herself your daughter is less likely to make decisions based on how much it will impress her peers or help her fit in. according to one study she is even more likely to be successful in later life in terms of her career and having healthy adult relationships if she is self confident as a teenager.
Low self confidence is prevalent amount teenage girls with seven out of every teen girls holding the belief that they are in some way not good enough in regards to their physical appearance, achievements and relationships. Almost half of all teenage girls are in some way attempting to lose weight and high school aged girls spend an average of around 50 minutes a day attempting to make themselves look better.
But why is having self confidence such a rarity among our girls? The largest contributing factor is the media’s portrayal of women. Magazines show images of stick thin, photoshopped celebrities with not a hair out of place while TV shows centre on sassy and amusing pretty girls who for some reason can all sing incredibly well and manage to be good at almost anything they try their hand at. On the odd occasion that a celebrity or TV star actually fails at something they tend to pull it off in a way that makes it endearing. There aren’t many real examples of women in the spotlight and it’s sending the message that if you want to be somebody you need to be perfect.
But it isn’t just the media that’s sending your teenage daughter on the path to low self confidence. Girls are constantly comparing themselves to their peers and being torn down by others who need to pull themselves up. Your daughter will probably deal with bullying and name calling at some stage during her high school experience. Then there are families who while well meaning and loving can do serious damage to a girls self confidence. If your daughter isn’t as slim as the rest of the family, or doesn’t have the ‘classic good looks’ of her other siblings she will have noticed it by now and she needs you to build her up.
This brings up to our last point. What can you as a parent do to help raise your teenage daughters self confidence? Encourage your daughter to value how she feels about herself more than what others think about her. Make sure she grows up knowing that it’s ok to wear what she wants and do what makes her happy, even if nobody else is wearing it or doing it. Help her own her personality by letting her know that you love her as she is and that there is only one her in the world. Give her the freedom to take risks and occasionally fail. She needs to learn how to trust her gut and pick herself up when she falls. Let her have her own opinions, even if you don’t totally agree with them and raise her to be strong and brave but don’t forget to be there when she needs you.
Compliment her strong points and don’t draw attention to her flaws. Nicknames like ‘chubs’ might be cute when she’s four, but when she’s fourteen and the whole family is still using it it’ll probably start to sting. Don’t ever joke about her flaws, even if she does. Sometimes she’ll make light of what she sees as imperfections to try and mask how much she’s really hurting. Unless you have serious health concerns regarding her body don’t try and be ‘helpful’ by suggesting she eat more, or less. Leaving flyers for the gym out on the table just so she sees’s it won’t help either.
Don’t assume that you know what the problem is, or that it needs fixing. Talk with her about an issue if you think it’s bothering her but sometimes well meaning attempts to help her out will go wrong. When I was twelve I started getting breakouts. A well meaning family member purchased a face wash that claimed to ‘target pimples’ without consulting me. I cried when it was presented to me because up until that point I hadn’t realised that my skin was an issue. Yes, I knew I was getting spots but I hadn’t had a problem with it. That well intended gesture left me self conscious about my skin for years.
Most importantly is being a good example to your daughter. Ensure she is raised with real women as influences and teach her to value her strong attributes more than what society deems ideal. Let her know that you love her and that you think she’s perfect. If she ever comes to you crying because she doesn’t think she’s good enough show her all the reasons that she is.