When girls hit adolescence, their self-esteem often plummets. Their IQs drop, as do their math and science scores.
Too many girls deny their own talents and strengths and adapt their personalities to fit themselves in to our society’s limited definition of what’s feminine.
Parents can help their daughters retain their sense of themselves—and hence their self-esteem—by doing these things:
- Encourage your daughter to ask, “Who am I and what do I want?”—instead of, “What must I do to please others?”
- Help your daughter identify and pursue her strengths, talents and interests. Teach her how to be goal-oriented.
- Help your daughter recognize discrimination, sexual harassment, violence against women and other forces in her life and in the media that impact women’s self-concepts.
- Use inclusive language—like mail carrier, not mailman.
- Model the respect and equality in your home that you want your daughter to experience in the outside world.
- Ask your daughter for her opinions.
- Be available and listen without judging when your daughter wants to talk.
- Help your daughter persevere in the face of difficulty and believe in herself. Say things like, “I know you can do it” and “Everyone makes mistakes.”
- Teach your daughter to record and celebrate her “victories” when she achieves goals.
- Encourage your daughter to have friends of both sexes, not just sexualized relationships with boys.
- Get your daughter to read works of women writers and stories about women who are strong.
- Enroll your daughter in self-defense classes.
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