Self-esteem in simple words is an attitude towards self. It can be explained as ‘having great respect towards your own self’.
Self-esteem means coming to terms with your complete self, just the way you are and embracing yourself in a most certain manner. For children, self-esteem translates to “emotion towards self”.
It is extremely important to cultivate self-esteem in children as it is self-motivating for them. They take better control and command of their lives. And most importantly, they develop an ability to surround themselves with people who support and encourage them.
It is true that irrespective of gender, boys and girls both need to be nurtured with a sense of self-esteem. But today in this article, Let us simply focus on cultivating self-esteem in our young daughters. A well thought of and deliberate approach will lead to better adjustments in later teen years and possibly give the world many shining stars to the likes of Aung San Suu Kyi, Saina Nehwal and Chanda Kochhar !
Parent’s Role: What you could do?
Build a strong foundation: – From her very first breath, remind your daughter on a daily basis, through words and action, that she is strong, smart and beautiful. Research confirms that girls with low self-esteem most commonly receive less praise and more criticism from either parent. Let her know that she was loved and treasured even before birth.
Part of A Bigger Picture: – Right from a young age, show your daughter that she is part of a bigger picture. Tell her that she is an essential part of the bigger family. There are people in the family who love her, like her grandparents, aunties, cousins, friends, siblings. Let her feel the sweet feeling of being ‘cushioned’ by loving relatives and close friendships. Tell her that her presence in the family as part of the bigger picture matters a lot.
A Role in Her Family: – Apart from knowing she is loved within her family, let your daughter know that she has an important role to play in it. She is a big/little sister, a cherished daughter, a niece, a granddaughter, and each relationship in her life is enriched by her being in it. The family would not be the same without her; she is valuable and special and needed. Let her know that! Be sure to encourage her role in family.
Focus on her uniqueness. : – Apart from regular school activities, help her to make time in her weekly/monthly schedule to focus on her hobbies. Let her know that her hobbies and passions are so important and that she should look for ways to work at them. Help her define what they are as she grows up. Ask her leading questions about her interests and listen to what she tells you. Expose her to a wonderful variety of activities, hobbies and sports and see what she loves doing. . Perhaps she aspires to be a motivational speaker; a caring physiotherapist, a doctor, a professional athlete who inspires young children, a great writer. Help her to know herself, to develop her talents and to share them with the world.
Teach her to speak up: – Encourage her to find and use her voice. Teach her to use her voice as a muscle — the more she uses it, the stronger it will be. Remember – Speaking on behalf of your daughter most or all of the time limits her self-worth.
Introduce her to active physical sports: – Do not underestimate the power of organized sports. The earlier you can get her hooked to sports and physical activity to keep her involved, the better it is. The opportunity to develop strong relationships with other girls and boys while working toward a common goal and to develop confidence related to something she does rather than simply how she looks, talks and acts is essential to building and maintaining self-esteem. Studies also suggest a significant decrease in participation in risky sexual behaviour among girls who play sports.
Help her to know her own body /her own physical self: – Remember that knowledge is power. It is crucial that your daughter knows and understands her own body. If she does so, she will be better equipped to deal with hormonal changes in her physical self later on in life and the impact that such changes have physically, emotionally and psychologically. The golden rule to follow -she cannot value nor protect a body that is foreign to her! If she cannot get open, honest and accurate information from her parents, she will get it from less-educated sources that may leave her misinformed and far less able to protect herself.
Limit her access to media early:-Media tends to build stereotypes. A great deal of television and print media sets unrealistic physical standards and portray over-sexualized, disempowered girls and women. If it goes unchecked, it will shape your daughter’s sense of reality and the standard she is expected to meet for acceptance, desirability and success. Additionally, it is essential that you gradually help her to achieve media literacy so that even when she is engaged with it, it will be with a more discerning mind. Let her see more of real men and women than digital ones!
Daddy – you are always being observed! : – All fathers need to be aware of the power of their words and actions. The way a father expresses his feelings and respect for women directly impacts the way his daughter sees herself and the degree of respect and overall value she will expect to receive from boys and men, later in life.
Mummy – you are a living role model:-Mothers should never forget that they are the most important role model for their daughters. So if we obsess too much over physical appearance, appear low on confidence, and do not exhibit strong values – our daughters are likely to imbibe the same attitude.
Self-esteem is a fragile thing. Once broken, it’s difficult to piece together. But once cemented, it is difficult to rip apart.