The C-Word! 3 Ways to talk to your daughter about her confidence
- Unpack what she thinks about what she sees online and television
It’s getting a little better but with the rise of social media and the pressure to have the perfect “square” – media is still a force telling girls that they should look a certain way. It may not be explicit (actually sometimes it is!), but the bottom line of the message a girl walks away with is “you are not enough, you can’t be happy with yourself the way you are” . In fact, studies have proven that young girls are so influenced by the media that they are more likely to develop eating disorders while trying to attain these unrealistic “beauty” goals. This can start when girls are as young as five years old! So scary! It is nearly impossible to control all the kinds of media our daughters consume (although we do not give up and still fight the good fight!), but we can talk to them about it, and this is how: Make talking about media a regular conversation in your family, ask her how she feels about what she is seeing, together identify why those influences are wrong (or right) – if you disagree, hear her side of it and don’t be afraid to share the way you see it – until you unlock a stand point that you both understand and are proud of. Building this kind of thought-through opinion, strengthens her convictions and beliefs- increasing her confidence to stand up to negative forces. There is power in training her to identify negative patterns in the representation of girls on social media, on television, and in advertisements because its an opportunity to break the cycle as she becomes a force for positive self- image amongst her friends and those she influences.
- Be direct and ask her how she feels about herself.
We see our daughters in the best light. This makes it hard to accept that they might not see themselves the same way. After all, who wants to imagine anybody telling our little girls that they are anything other than perfection, especially when that negative talk comes from themselves? Aaah! It’s heartbreaking.
Make it a point to ask your daughter how she is feeling, start building a vocabulary of words other than good. Explain the meaning of anxious, overwhelmed, under achieved OR proud, excited, energised or plain and simple: confident and empowered. She should feel encouraged to talk to you when she is feeling bad about herself and know that sometimes it is ok, because we all go through bad days – but it’s not ok to always be feeling that way. If she does find herself in that situation, it’s time to dig (through talking or journaling) about what is at the root of those bad feelings. It takes courage and non-judgment to get to the root cause, but the relief and feelings of empowerment once you get to that point are unbelievably game-changing.
- Encourage positive self-talk.
Nobody wants to listen to somebody brag about themselves. Though, when we are working on improving girls’ confidence, we must let it slide. And, more than that, we must encourage it!
Give your daughter opportunities to brag about herself. Did she just score the winning goal in a soccer game? Sweet! Give her the time to talk about how proud she is of herself. This will help her feel more comfortable highlighting her better qualities in practice. Just make sure that she remembers to praise everybody else on the team, too! Knowing the feeling of pride in oneself is and feeling that will keep your daughter working towards it – it’s a beautiful feeling!