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Going to a new school, meeting new people, getting her first job, choosing a major, learning to drive a car – It’s enough to make your teenage daughter’s head spin, and yours! She is constantly being challenged with gaining new skills, meeting new people, and being pushed outside of her comfort zone. Perhaps she is having feelings of inadequacy, vulnerability, etc. Not surprisingly. But what do you do if you notice it’s having an impact on her confidence and self-esteem?
As parents, this can break our hearts. We want the best for our children and to see them happy and confident. We also don’t want them to miss out on the amazing opportunities, friendships, and experiences because of low self-esteem. But here’s the good news: low self-esteem is not a fixed trait. And on top of that, there are many things we can do as parents to help boost our teenage daughters’ confidence and self-esteem!
We can get in the habit of only pointing out what our children are doing wrong. Just by shifting your focus to be on the lookout for what your daughter does well, you will be able to recognize her attributes more easily. And when you compliment her, you will be able to share your example to back it up and it will be a more meaningful compliment. ‘I really appreciate how you keep your room clean and organized.’ ‘I love the way you style your hair; you are very creative.’ ‘I noticed every day you work diligently on your homework. I am proud of you!’ Sincere words of kindness, support, recognition, and encouragement can do wonders for your daughters’ self-esteem. Aim for three sincere compliments a week to boost her confidence!
Listening to your daughter will help her feel valued, important and help raise her confidence and self-esteem. It will help you to better understand your daughter and how she feels as well as build a stronger bond between you both. Here are a few tips on how to be a good listener: Give her your undivided attention. Ask questions to clarify what she is saying if you don’t fully understand. Acknowledge your daughters’ feelings. Avoid interrupting or jumping in to try to fix the situation or change how she feels. Use ‘I’ statements when replying to avoid putting her on defense such as I feel, I need, I want, etc.
It’s important to help your daughter recognize that no one is confident at all times. Sometimes we feel pressured to feel confident all the time, but it is unrealistic. As we experience new things, we are not going to be confident in our abilities until we grow stronger in that area. And that is okay!
If your daughter confronts a challenge that seems too big, help her break it down to smaller bite-sized goals. Take a goal, and break it down into manageable steps with a doable timeline. By doing this she can celebrate all the little wins that lead up to the big win and feel more confident without feeling overwhelmed or paralyzed by it.
Try not to compare your daughter to her siblings, or her friends, her cousins, etc. The comparison game is a hurtful one as it often results in comparing negatively. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. Help her recognize her strengths and bring out her very best.
As your teenager approaches adulthood and all the responsibility that comes with that, she needs to make her own decisions. This will give her a sense of empowerment that will help her make future decisions without feeling controlled by someone else or too afraid to make the decision themselves. Of course, that doesn’t mean you should let them do anything they want, as you should always guide them to choose healthy and safe behaviors. As for other decisions, encourage your child to do the thinking, planning, and decision-making themselves. And allow room for mistakes.
If your daughter is in the habit of thinking negatively, she may talk herself out of taking action. “I can’t do it.” “It will never work.” “I’m not good at this.” Sharing positive statements can boost her confidence, mood and health. You can help her challenge those statements with: ‘You can do it!’ ‘You won’t know until you try. And if it doesn’t work, you can try something else.’ ‘You will get better with time.’ It can bring her back to the thinking and problem-solving part of her brain. By taking action, over time she will begin to recognize her progress which will boost her confidence and self-esteem.
As parents, we want to save our kids from making any mistakes, but we rob them of the valuable lessons they can learn and the resilience they need to be successful in their adult lives. Help your child to understand that mistakes happen and that’s okay. Avoid the ‘I told you so’ spill as this prevents the thinking process and hurts their confidence and self-esteem. Instead, provide support when they fail, and discuss how they can avoid this mistake in the future and how it is important to keep moving forward.
Encourage and support your daughter to challenge herself and take action. By taking on challenges, she can prove to herself that she can do it! But if she avoids challenges or taking action, she will deny herself the very thing that makes her stronger, more competent, and builds her resilience. The more challenges she overcomes, the less she becomes intimidated or frightened by them, as she grows stronger in her abilities and her trust that she will get better with time and effort.
Lastly, it is important to take a good look at your overall confidence and self-esteem.
As you praise, encourage and support your teenage daughter, be sure you are treating yourself with that same loving kindness. By practicing and modeling confidence, your example will serve as the strongest message yet.
Compass Rose International is dedicated to combating child trafficking through education and empowerment. In Nepal, we have established the INpowerment Center and Dormitory, providing a safe and nurturing environment for at-risk children. Additionally, we are making strides in Denver by creating a Retreat for Young Women, fostering an atmosphere where they can build confidence and cultivate leadership skills for a brighter future.
September 30, 2023