We all want to raise confident, well-adjusted daughters. This feat is growing more difficult as girls, starting at a young age, are bombarded with messages that give them unhealthy views of their bodies and their abilities.
As adult women, we war with these pressures. We recognize the lack of authenticity in social media and major online influencers. We try to avoid the diet culture and celebrity worship that whispers in our ears that we must be perfect through someone else’s eyes. It is work!
Most of my friends agree that being a kid was difficult enough when we were growing up. Now, the big question for many of us is, what measures can we take to raise our daughters to have healthy self-esteem in today’s world?
Body Image and Social Media
Self-esteem involves more than body image, but in today’s culture with toxic ever-present feedback, we must prioritize this as a focus.
As summarized by Commonsense.org, body image takes shape early in life and it develops from various influences:
- Body image develops early in childhood.
- Body image is influenced by family and culture.
- Exposure to traditional media is a risk factor for developing body dissatisfaction.
A new report from the Dove Self-Esteem Project indicates that “1 in 2 girls say toxic beauty advice on social media causes low self-esteem. And 90% of girls say they follow at least one social media account that makes them feel less beautiful.” In this project, girls shared the following about themselves and social media:
- 71% agree spending less time on social media would be better for their self-esteem
- 52% say toxic beauty advice on social media causes low self-esteem
- 90% say they follow at least one social media account that makes them feel less beautiful
- 56% say they can’t live up to the beauty standards projected on social media
What You Can Do to Encourage Healthy Self-Esteem in Your Daughter
Here are five areas of focus that can help you support healthy self-esteem in your daughter:
Have a Talk About Social Media and Online Influencers
Take social media and online influencers seriously.
The power of a visual image is strong. Encourage your child to talk about what they are seeing and interpreting. Encourage them to think beyond the images and text on the screen.
Ask these questions:
- What part of this image has been cropped?
- What part of this person’s life or experiences is not being shown? (i.e., Is this their day-to-day life?)
- What is the purpose of this post? (i.e., To draw attention? To highlight their day? To gain ‘likes’?)
- Do you believe this person is really who they appear to be online?
Listen to the response that your child gives to you, and do not underestimate their understanding. Do explain filters and photoshopping and be ready to show examples. Explain the role that an influencer has online (i.e., to make money or to gain followers, etc.).
Take a Break from Social Media
Have you ever taken a break from social media? I did, and when I returned, my eyes opened to ‘everything fake’ in my feeds. Plus, I no longer wanted to scroll (and scroll), only to pick up on the negative vibes from people who were just ‘being transparent’! Encourage your child to take a break from social media and make it a family affair. Pledge to put your phone and devices down and to set the social media vacation dates in stone!
Encourage Character Vs. Standards of Beauty
Praise your daughter for what she does well, and not for beauty. Praise her for living by, and making choices by, her core values. These actions will encourage self-acceptance and peace and will discourage poor self-esteem and body image. Discourage perfectionism in your daughter. Talk about what she, and anyone (including you), can and cannot control. Help your daughter set realistic goals and help her celebrate her (non-beauty related) wins.
Share stories of your own failures and struggles and explain how these things do not mold who you are. Monitor your self-expectations and your self-talk. Be a model to your daughter that you do not compare yourself to others, and that you find worth in your uniqueness. Praise other women for their efforts, and not for their beauty. Help your daughter partake in activities that build skills and confidence, with no focus on beauty or obtaining things. Encourage your daughter to engage in creativity, which will help her embrace self-expression.
Discourage People Pleasing
Encourage your daughter to engage in assertive communication. Practice it with her! This will discourage her from people-pleasing (which is a common issue in women – putting someone else’s needs ahead of our own). She will learn to express her thoughts and feelings, which will bolster her self-esteem.
Melbourne Child Psychology defines assertiveness as a way to communicate feelings, thoughts, opinions, and beliefs in a respectful, clear, and honest manner.
Assertive children are more likely to be able to:
- Identify their own feelings
- Speak up for themselves and other
- Avoid and respond to bullying
- Disagree respectfully
- Negotiate with others
- Say “no” without feeling guilty
- Build up stronger relationships
- Build confidence and self-esteem
- Feel in control
“To be passive is to let others decide for you. To be aggressive is to decide for others. To be assertive is to decide for yourself. And to trust that there is enough, that you are enough.” ― Edith Eva Eger
Cultivate a safe space for your daughter to openly communicate with you and praise her when she does so. Be available for your daughter. Let her know that she can come talk to you anytime. Avoid judging and jumping to conclusions. Ensure that she knows that you love her unconditionally!
Is Your Daughter Stressed Out?
We can help tweens and teens holistically and safely let loose of stress through massage therapy. Massage is safe for kids! Many parents do not realize that massage is safe for kids, but the healing power of touch is great therapy for all ages. Our bodies respond to the physical touch of massage with a reduction of stress hormones, mainly cortisol, and a release of feel-good hormones, including serotonin, which boosts our body’s ability to fight off pain, anxiety, and feelings of sadness.
We want nothing more for you and your family than to feel good!
We want everyone to be pain and stress-free.
If you are in the Austin, Texas area, we are here for you and your family. We want to help you boost your family’s level of self-care and diminish any toxic effects of stress.