Preteen and Teen Girls and Self Esteem



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Photo by Paul Bonafide Eferianor on

Does your daughter often say, I’m fat. I’m too skinny. I’d be happy if I were taller, shorter or had longer legs? Does she seem to constantly put herself down? If she does, she is not alone, many teen and tween girls struggle with self image and body image. As her body changes, so does her image of herself and she may have difficulty adjusting and this often affects her self esteem.

Why Are Self-Esteem and Body Image Important?
Self-esteem is all about much people value themselves, the pride they feel in themselves, and how worthwhile they feel. Self-esteem is important because feeling good about yourself can affect how you behave. A person who has high self-esteem will make friends easily, is more in control of her behavior, and will enjoy life more.

Body image is how someone feels about her own physical appearance.
For many girls, especially those in their early teens, body image can be closely linked to self-esteem. This is because as kids develop into teens, they care more about how others see them.

What Influences a Person’s Self-Esteem?

Some girls struggle with their self-esteem when they begin puberty because the body goes through many changes. These changes, combined with a natural desire to feel accepted, mean it can be tempting for girls to compare themselves with others. They may compare themselves with the people around them or with celebrities they see on TV, in movies, or in magazines. It’s important to talk to girls about these changes and how everyone develops at different rates and no matter what they are beautiful.

Outside Influences

Family life can sometimes influence self-esteem. Some parents are very critical with their children. This often reduces the child’s ability to develop good self-esteem. While you don’t need to praise your child all the time, it is important to praise them and offer constructive rather than negative criticism.

Healthy Self-Esteem
If your daughter has a positive body image, she will like and accept herself. This healthy attitude allows your child to explore other aspects of growing up, such as developing good friendships, growing more independent from her parents, and challenging herself physically and mentally.

Tips for helping your daughter Improve her Body Image:
It’s important to talk to your daughter about the many different types of bodies. It’s important to help her to realize that no matter what she’s beautiful. If your daughter continues to have feelings of low self esteem, it may beneficial for her to receive counseling.

Positive Discipline and Your Teen

Being the parent of a teen can be very challenging.   Teens sometimes seem intent on doing exactly the opposite of what we ask.   We have to try to remember that their job now is to find themselves as a person, to shape an identity and to figure  out what’s important to them. They often feel that their  integrity would be compromised by simply doing what we ask because we ask it.   So discipline as we usually think of it often backfires with teens.  If you come down like a sledge hammer, you can count on open rebellion. If you crack down on the rebellion instead of listening to your child’s reasons, you can count on your teen becoming a very good liar, and sneaking behind your back.  If you have a warm, affirming, open relationship where your teen feels respected and respects you, if you have relied on lots of discussion to guide your child, then you can count on easier teen years. Your child will honor your rules most of the time and will initiate negotiations about the ones that don’t work for her.  Also  kids who aren’t punished, but are lovingly guided to make reparations and solve problems, are earlier to develop internal discipline and a strong moral sense–so your teen now has the ability to make the hard choices to do what’s right, regardless of what her friends are doing.  However if you’ve relied on punishment to control your child , you may have difficulties because a parenting style that relies mostly on the threat of punishment doesn’t give a child the self discipline to manage himself. It’s time to shift to the kind of strong parent-child relationship that makes your child want to cooperate. So if you’ve been punishing, it isn’t too late.
Where to begin?

1. Commit to a respectful tone, for everyone in the household.
Try to  not yell as often.  Teens often yell and are disrespectful when they are yelled at often.

2. Focus on strengthening the relationship so that when you set a limit
or express an expectation , your child wants to please you. Make sure you have one-on-one time with each child,  in which you mostly listen. . You can’t have any influence if your kid doesn’t enjoy being with you.

3. Stop punishing.
Instead, be sure your teen knows the non-negotiable family rules.

4. Set clear expectations about what matters to you.
This will vary for every family.  These can include working during the summer, doing homework every night and chores which you have given them.

5. Give whatever support is necessary for your child to meet your expectations.
Regardless of the issue, your teen won’t necessarily know how to make things better. He needs your help. You may not know, either, but your  willingness to step in to support him in figuring out the next step will reassure him that he isn’t alone, and will go a long way toward solving the problem.

6. Foster accountability in a new way.
Worried that your child isn’t being “held accountable”? Introduce the concept of reparations. This isn’t a consequence (punishment) that you impose. This is when you ask your teen if there’s something he can do to make the situation better now. For instance, if he says something mean to his sister, he’ll need to do some repair work on that relationship. If he breaks something, he’ll need to help pay for a replacement.

These tips will go a long way in helping you to have a positive relationship with you child.