Raising your daughter

Sugar and spice and all things nice... or moods and malice and meanness? What is your daughter made of? How can you support, guide and enjoy her?

Encouraging confidence and self-esteem in younger girls

Written by Pim Grimes on 20/03/2013

Q. My 7 year old daughter has no confidence and low self-esteem. At a recent children’s birthday party she panicked at the thought of being caught out in one of the party games, so much so that she almost made herself sick! She is not a spoiled child and she has a clear concept that sometimes you win and sometimes you lose but she was scared of having to sit on the stage if she got caught out. What can I do to stop her feeling this way? I hate for her to have no confidence.

A. Given the situation you have decsribed I would firstly advise you not to worry too much… The concept of winning and losing is easy to understand when the rules are very clear; in a party game the rules are not always clear. Party games were not invented to foster self-esteem or confidence, they are supposed to be fun and they are fun if you are winning; if you are losing and are picked out as the one person who moved or did not dance as well as the others they can be nerve wracking and humiliating. As an adult it would be embarrassing to be singled out to ‘sit on the stage’ because you had not done something as well as your friends in something, therefore, I would not worry about this particular event. Children do have to be mature and very confident to be able to laugh off a situation, 7 is very young to have developed those social skills. People organising party games are usually careful to choose several children rather than just one to ‘lose’ and in that situation I think your daughter would have been happier.

Winning and losing in sporting events is easier to deal with as children are often part of a team; in individual events if someone else wins it is generally clear that they were better than you on the day and this is much easier to cope with than seemingly random selection in a party game.

Confidence and self-esteem can to a certain extent be given and they can definitely be encouraged. Focusing on the positive and making supportive and complimentary comments can help to make children feel valued and confident. Choose your compliments carefully as they have to be justified and important, a general, ‘You are lovely’, is a bit vague, a focused compliment about something specific such as, ‘I am proud of you, you did that really well’, is better. It is easy to always say something nice. If children feel valued and valuable they will feel confident and have greater self-esteem. Being kind and supportive is not spoiling a child and should be enouraged.

You may also find the following articles useful:
How can I raise my 10 year old daughter’s self esteem?
Self esteem matters
Helping your daughter feel happy within herself

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