Have you ever caught your daughter in front of the mirror, looking at herself in a way that definitely is not pride? Have you ever heard her say things like, “I’m ugly” or “I suck at everything.”
Moms love their children, no matter how they look or what they do, and perhaps the most heartbreaking thing is to see your daughter’s self-esteem get lower and lower as she grows… and what every Mom wants is for her young lady to be happy and self-confident, not to mention a healthy self-image is key to success in life.
I don’t think most parents realize how much their words impact the children – every positive, as well as negative, comment affect the way they feel about themselves. Whenever you feel good about your daughter – when you’re proud of her, when you think she did something great, when she looks gorgeous – tell her! Expressing negative feelings is easier than expressing positive ones, so next time you’re about to pass off a not-very-nice comment, think twice – it will be stored in your child’s head for a long time, she will ‘replay’ your words to herself over and over again, because they matter to her, even if she won’t admit it – is it really necessary? Wouldn’t she rather hear something good coming from your mouth?
Speaking of positive comments, sometimes simply stating that your daughter is wrong when she says, “I’m too fat” or “I can’t do this” is not enough to change her mind. Whenever you hear your daughter point out negative things about herself, remind her of all the positive ones! You might tell her that even though she feels she cannot play volleyball as well as the rest of her class, she is amazing at arts and crafts. Or that even though she feels she doesn’t fit into that dress she loves, she is still beautiful. If your daughter is concentrating on the things she can’t do, she forgets about the things she can do – your job is to remind her!
Peer pressure can be a great factor in determining how your daughter feels about herself, and sometimes there is no way you can help any negative comments affecting her. The solution here is to support her in every way you can – if she decides she wants to change the way her body looks, for instance, help her with sticking to a healthy diet (you might take on the diet together, if you feel it will raise her morale!) and support her exercising; knowing that you, being a very important figure in her life, support her choices, she will not feel alone and will realize her choices are respected.
Lastly, remember that you set the examples; your daughter only follows them! You really need to show her you are self-confident and that a healthy self-image goes a long way in making life more pleasant – she will notice the benefits it brings and therefore will long to behave this way as well. Set the example of a person you would want your child to be – she deserves the best she can possibly get, and your job is to help her achieve it!