How To Boost Your Teenage Daughter’s Confidence
Sep 06, 2017
If I said you could give just one gift to your daughter - I can almost guarantee you would choose to instil her with self-confidence.
Confidence is a fragile thing that many adults have not quite mastered. Without it, life can be painful, turbulent and unpredictable. We essentially hand over the navigation of our path to someone else.
This is especially worrying, as when we scan the various demographics across society. It seems that teenage girls are most vulnerable. They seem to get a particularly tough set of circumstances in which to nurture their own self-confidence.
Parents are often left confused and unsure about how they can help the important young women in their lives to cultivate self-esteem. Fortunately, there are many ways that you can support her and encourage her confidence to grow.
Turn Off The Spotlight
One of the most effective ways to help your daughter’s self-confidence to grow is to remove the focus from her appearance. In a world where impossibly airbrushed images of women bombard our senses, you can be pretty sure that she is acutely aware of her own ‘shortcomings’.
Statistics show that amongst high school girls, 44% are trying to lose weight.
Try to resist being another voice in the stream of messages she is receiving about how women should look. This means both positive and negative comments.
Focus on what she can do, what she is achieving and what makes you proud. Academic progress, sporting advancements, thoughtfulness, community engagement and being a good friend are all far more worthy of praise. If you do compliment her appearance, aim to comment on twice as many non-appearance related things that make you proud.
This young woman means far more to you than her aesthetics. Be the one who reminds her how valuable she is, no matter how she dresses.
Mistakes vs Lessons
Try to remember that she was a child just a few short years or even months ago. Now, as a young adult, there are many skills she is expected to master. This thought can be petrifying to many young women.
Self-confidence comes when she feels capable in her space, so support her in practising the skills she needs to feel this way.
Remember when she was taking her first steps, or learning to use the toilet on her own? It seems so obvious with these milestones, but you were there to help her along the way. You didn’t sigh when she failed and undoubtedly cheered when she finally got it.
Learning ‘adult’ skills are the same!
Areas that often worry young women include phoning to make a doctor’s appointment, ordering food or organising for a tradesman to visit. If you remember the first time you did one of these things, perhaps you felt some nerves too.
It is only natural. Use these ‘adulting’ opportunities to help her to develop and test new skills. As she learns, remember that you not looking for perfection. This is all practice!
Making mistakes is a chance to help her to hone skills, who knows, you might even learn a few things yourself.
Another key area that requires practice is in emotional communication. Using language to describe what is going on inside of us requires vulnerability and courage. It can become a barrier to self-expression if this communication is not rehearsed.
Taking the time to build up an emotional language will be hugely beneficial to your daughter, as she will have the tools to convey what she is feeling, to her peers, teachers and even to you.
Taking the time to teach and explain these important things to your daughter, or the important young women in your life is great. But we want to remind you of the importance of your actions.
More than anything, your behaviour will be what she uses to model her own actions on. So make sure that they are in line with the message you intend to pass on!
Here are some suggestions:
For mums / aunties
- Be honest about your own struggles as a woman and as a parent mum
- Don’t trash talk other women
- Model the behaviour you want her to take on. Do you want to pass on an obsession with your appearance?
- Enjoy me-time
For dads / uncles etc
- Treat her mum and other women with respect
- Don’t treat her like a damsel in distress
Above all, make sure that the important young women in your life know that you love them unconditionally. That means, regardless of the mistakes she is almost sure to make. No matter how she wears her hair, no matter how puberty looks on her, even if she flunks maths.
This period of her life will involve a lot of adjustment, trying on new personas and testing out new ideas. Be there for her through the journey.
Empathise, listen, hug, talk it out, and above all let her come up with solutions in the safety of your love.
Free her from the expectation to have to please everyone. This is so liberating. After all, your goal should not be to raise a ‘pleaser’ but a healthy individual.
Self-confidence is important to allow young women to reach their potential. A well-known quote comes to mind: “Good parents give their children Roots and Wings. Roots to know where home is, Wings to fly away and exercise what's been taught them.”
Dr. Jonas Salk
Parents have a difficult job when it comes to their teenage daughters, but it is possible to help them to develop a robust self-esteem. Try taking the focus off of their appearance and allowing them space to practice new skills without fear of judgement.
Mistakes will be made, but consider how your own actions will be modeled by the important young women in your life. Above all, let her know that she is loved unconditionally and has a safe space at home.