Strategies for increasing self esteem in your pre-teen
Written by Felicia Kirk on 23/10/2012
Q. My daughter is 12 years old and has low self-esteem. She is attractive, intelligent and is normally very friendly. However she has a very fiery temper and can find it hard to keep friends. Lately she has said everyone hates her, she’s ugly and hates her life. What can I do to help her?
A. As girls develop, their overall sense of self-esteem and personal worth changes too. Recent research has shown that girls’ self-esteem peaks when they are about 9 years old, then drops off. This is because girls of your daughter’s age encounter more pressures in life, especially in their personal relationships. So she may react more strongly than a boy would to the pressures she encounters. Your daughter’s fiery temper may be linked to the stress she is feeling within her friendships. We also know that around the ages of 10-12 girls experience a shift in focus, when the body becomes a ‘barometer of worth’ and girls’ self-esteem becomes linked to their physical attributes. Often girls feel they cannot measure up to the airbrushed standards of pop culture. The omnipresent sexualisation of girls and young women in the media can undermine girls’ confidence, having a negative impact on their self image. Intelligent girls such as your daughter can also come to believe that being bright is just not sexy, so they discount their achievements. However, as her parent you can help your daughter overcome, negative feelings about herself and grow into a strong, self-confident young woman.
So what can you do? Encourage your daughter to voice her opinions about issues. Watch movies and television together and discuss how images of girls are portrayed for example. If possible set time aside with dad, since dads play an important role in the development of their daughter’s self-esteem. Get your daughter involved in a new activity such as a sport or something else she has not tried yet. If she succeeds, this will make her feel strong and competent, but even if she fails, the important thing in building self-esteem is to let her try.
Your daughter is still developing a sense of who she is and who she wants to become. Within your family you can create the right environment that will help her to overcome her current difficulties and to achieve her full potential.