The teen years are some of the most difficult for both boys and girls. However, studies show that as teen boys enter puberty, their confidence is likely in increase. On the other hand, girls’ confidence and feelings of self-esteem are likely to take a downhill slide. The repercussions of this can be damaging at best and destructive at worst. Girls who do not feel good about themselves are more likely to suffer from depression and engage in self-destructive behavior that can range from eating disorders, to cutting, to risky sexual behaviors. Obviously, doing whatever you can to keep your daughter feeling good about herself is a good idea. The following tips are by no means all inclusive, but they are a starting point.
Be a Good Role Model
Parents have a difficult job with a lot of responsibility. However, one of the best things parents can do for their children is to set a good example. Mothers and fathers are equally important in children’s lives, regardless of the family living situation. When fathers have solid relationships with their daughters and show that they love them, girls will be less likely to seek male attention elsewhere. Even though it can be very difficult and trying at times to communicate with your teenage daughter, do your best to constantly let her know that you are available and that you love her. This goes for both fathers and mothers. Mothers’ roles are also important. If mothers demonstrate healthy ways of expressing emotions, emotional independence, and other positive attributes, it will demonstrate to teen girls that they can speak up for their needs without having to find destructive ways of getting them met.
You’ve probably heard it time and time again, but research continues to show that teens who feel their parents are interested and involved in their lives are much less likely to engage in dangerous or negative behaviors. Even if it seems your teen is ignoring you, she probably isn’t. It’s more likely that she is listening, but also trying to assert her independence as she navigates her way through increasing self reliance and the fears that come with this. Teens are at a difficult crossroad between becoming more and more independent, while at the same time having feelings of not wanting to leave home when the time comes, fears of college, fears of making a living, and all the other insecurities that come with the responsibilities of maturity. You can help alleviate these fears by making an ongoing effort to show your daughter that you are available. This way, she can come to you when she is ready. But if she’s not getting the message that you are there for her, she will instead turn to her peers, boyfriends, substances, or other methods of dealing with her emotions.
Show Your Daughter that You have Confidence in Her
As appropriate, take means to show your daughter that you have confidence in her abilities, dreams, and achievements. Encourage her in what she does well, and encourage her to try new things. Showing that you have confidence in her ability to take on new challenges will help her feel more confident in herself. She will need to face new situations on a regular basis during the teen and early adult years, and having a support team can make this much easier for her. Also consider teaching or showing her ways she can build her confidence, such as taking a stand against gossip, school bullies, and pressures to do things she doesn’t want to do. Peer pressure at this age can be enormous, and when your daughter has the tools and the back-up plan (you) to deal with it, she can start to gain confidence in her successes.