1. What is self-esteem and self-confidence?
Self-esteem refers to the way you judge your own worth. Having high self-esteem means loving, respecting, and valuing yourself as you are.
Self-confidence is having the strength and conviction to be who you are and act in a way that is true to your personality. For example, having self-confidence allows you to “sell yourself” in a job interview or compete in a sporting challenge. The two are linked, but it is possible to have both high self-esteem and low self-confidence in a certain area or activity.
There are lots of ways you can help your daughter build self-confidence and self-esteem, such as improving your own body confidence, curbing self-criticism, and even doing fun activities together such as our Why I’m Brilliant game designed to help her appreciate her unique qualities.
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2. What are the warning signs of low self-esteem?
There are a few tell-tale signs that suggest your daughter might have low self-esteem; she may shy away from social situations, stop trying new activities, or avoid things she finds challenging.
If you think a girl might be struggling with low self-esteem, there are lots of ways you can help. Girls have many role models and people who influence them, so whether you’re her parent, her teacher, or a family friend, we’ve got tools to help you recognize and address low self-esteem. Check out our resources for teachers and youth leaders and mentors, as well as the extensive hub of articles and activities for parents.
3. 3. How do you build self-esteem?
If you’re trying to work out how to help someone with low self-esteem, then you’ve come to the right place! There are lots of ways to improve self-esteem, from avoiding negative body talk and living a healthy lifestyle, to decoding media images and learning how to avoid constantly comparing ourselves with others. At Dove, we’ve done research to understand the key factors that affect a girl’s self-esteem, and we use this knowledge to inform the content we create to support parents, teachers, and youth leaders.
If you’re a parent who wants to raise your daughter’s self-esteem, take a look at our articles on boosting self-esteem for more information and support.
If you’re worried about a student in your class or a girl in one of your youth groups, check out our free expert-endorsed workshops for teachers and easy-to-use resources for youth leaders and mentors.
4. How can I help someone with low self-esteem?
If you’re wondering how to improve the self-esteem of the girls in your life, start by surrounding them with adults who are positive role models for self-esteem and body confidence.
The many physical and emotional changes girls go through during adolescence can have a negative effect on their self-esteem. By providing them with positive examples of confidence, you can help them feel reassured. Whether you’re a mom or dad, teacher or mentor, find tips on building self-esteem and body confidence in our Learning to Love Yourself First article
Why? Well, the way we talk about our own bodies and looks has a big influence on how our daughters talk about their own. For example, it’s been shown that people who complain about their weight are more likely to have lower satisfaction with their bodies—regardless of their actual size. In our Body Talk article, you’ll find a handy guide to help you use the right words when talking about your body.
And because we know it takes a village to raise a child, our free resources and activity guides for teachers and youth leaders and mentors are specially designed for the classroom, park, or community center.
Frequency, Content, and Impact of Fat Talk Among College Women, Psychology Of Women Quarterly, 2015
5. How can parents help with self-esteem?
Parents can make all the difference to a girl’s self-esteem.
Positive affirmations repeated out loud, cutting out self-criticism, and generally being kind to yourself can all help positively influence your daughter’s self-confidence and self-esteem. You can find lots more parenting advice at our boosting self-esteem hub.
If you’re a mom, chances are you can relate to the insecurities and pressures your daughter might be experiencing. Keeping the lines of communication open and talking to your daughter in a language she understands will help her navigate the pressures she faces.
Equally as important is creating a safe space for your daughter to come to you for advice when she might be worried or unhappy. Creating a mother-daughter code could help build trust and encourage your daughter to be open with you.
If you’re a dad, you might feel out of your comfort zone as your daughter begins to grow into a woman. But your role is just as important when it comes to supporting your daughter through puberty and helping her develop strong self-esteem. For some guidance and tips, check out our articles on how to strengthen the father-daughter relationship, and what role dads can play in improving their daughters’ self-esteem.
6. What is body image?
Body image is how you think and feel about the way you look. It also refers to the way you treat your body and how well you look after yourself. Body image is also commonly referred to as body confidence.
Positive body image means accepting the way you look in spite of any perceived imperfections, and rejecting the narrowly defined beauty ideals of the media or society. If you have positive body image, you’re likely to look after your health and wellbeing by exercising and eating well.
Negative body image is when you don’t like the way you look, or care so much about your appearance that it interferes with living a healthy life. Examples include getting involved in risky behavior such as underage drinking or excessive dieting.
To help improve your daughter’s body image, encourage her to recognize all of her talents and look at appearance with a sense of perspective. After all, the way she looks is just one part of her. To help you do that, we created The Real Me activity to help her learn to celebrate and appreciate her whole self.
Literature Review: Body Image & Adolescent Girls, commissioned by Dove, August 2012
7. How is body image influenced by the media?
The use of airbrushing in the media has been widely blamed for a lot of body confidence issues, though it’s only one of many factors affecting self-esteem.
You can help your daughter have a healthy and realistic body image by supporting her to look at the media with a critical eye, helping her to understand the digital manipulation of images that we’ve all become so accustomed to. By watching our Evolution film together, you can help her start to recognize how the media images she sees may have been altered. You could also start a conversation with her about the role of women in music videos or the impact of celebrity culture to get her discussing what she thinks about these topics.
We also cover the influence of the media, including social media, in our free teaching resources and as part of our self-esteem activities for youth groups.
8. What is the “perfect” female body?
There is no such thing! Beauty is defined differently in different countries and is constantly changing – there really is no ideal body shape. After all, people come in all shapes and sizes.
However, because girls are surrounded by a narrow interpretation of beauty and so many digitally manipulated images, it’s easy to believe a “perfect” body exists. If you think a girl might be feeling this influence, check out our article about beauty perceptions for guidance on how to help her see beyond the manipulated images in the media, and help her separate reality from fantasy.
9. What is peer pressure?
Peer pressure is the influence people can feel from others of their own age or social group that persuades them to act in a certain way. On this site we focus on the peer pressure girls often feel to change the way they look, dress, or act in order to be accepted, and help them find ways to follow their own path.
For tips on resisting this type of peer pressure, our peer pressure action checklist is full of advice, or you might find our article about helping your daughter find her unique sense of style useful too.
10. What are the different types of bullying?
Girls often experience different types of bullying to boys. Rather than physical bullying, girls often focus on mental games of ostracising others, spreading rumours about them or hurting their feelings, often focused around how they look. And when it’s this type of psychological bullying rather than physical, it might be harder to spot the damage being caused to a girl’s self-esteem. For more information on the different ways girls bully and to help your daughter tell her friends from her ‘frenemies’, read our Girl Bullies article.
Bullying can now happen not only at school, but while online: via her mobile phone, social networking sites or a games console. This is called cyberbullying and we’ve got an article specifically to help you recognise different types of cyberbullying.
11. Why do people bully?
It’s important to explore what causes bullying to be able to help girls understand why people bully and how best to beat it.
Bullying often stems from the bully’s own insecurities or out of boredom. Bullies can also have problems at home and see bullying as a way to take control over their lives.
Don’t be afraid to start the conversation about why people bully and what causes bullying. Try to explain to your daughter why we should celebrate the differences in the way girls look and express themselves, even if these differences are often the focus of bullies’ teasing.
To help your daughter understand why people bully, read our understanding bullying behaviour article.
12. How do I know if my child is being bullied?
A good way to tell whether or not your child is being bullied is to watch out for symptoms of bullying, especially changes in her behavior. Is she feigning illness to get out of school? Has she started dressing differently or wearing baggy clothes to cover up her figure? Is she avoiding an activity she normally enjoys? These might be signs that something’s going on.
For more tips on looking for symptoms of bullying, and how to deal with them, check out our article on how to spot the signs of bullying.
13. How can we stop bullying?
Bullying can happen at home, at school and even sometimes among friends.
If you’re a teacher and want to help a girl in your class whose self-esteem is being affected by appearance-related bullying, then why not deliver your very own body-confidence workshop, which tackles the issues head on. Or you can request a free self-esteem workshop for your class, delivered by a trained facilitator.
For advice on how to help your daughter in this type of scenario check out the articles in our teasing and bullying hub, where there are articles on specific issues such as how to spot if your daughter is being bullied or how to deal with bullying online.
14. How can I stop or prevent cyberbullying?
From social media to schoolwork, the Internet plays a key role in our girls’ worlds today, but it also brings a new set of dangers to their self-esteem. This is why knowing how to prevent cyberbullying is so important.
One way to reduce the risk and impact of online bullying is to ensure girls have a life offline that makes their online one less of a focal point— encouraging them to spend time with their friends and increase in-person social interaction as opposed to virtual communication.
As a parent, you can check out the facts about cyberbullying for ways to help your daughter if you think this might be a problem.
Or tackle the influence of social media on body confidence in the classroom or with your youth group with our free teaching resources and youth leader materials.
15. What is puberty and how will it affect my child’s self-esteem?
From buying a bra to starting her period, puberty is a time of confusing firsts for girls as they transition into young women. And as their body develops, their self-esteem can be truly tested.
Try not to put off having the “puberty talk” and answering the many questions they may have about the meaning of puberty. It can certainly be awkward and embarrassing, so we’ve pulled together some tips and advice on how to approach the subject. And when you do get up the courage, remember that this will be an ongoing conversation, not a one-time chat.
16. How do I support my daughter if she has early or delayed puberty?
Puberty for girls usually happens between the ages of 8 and 14, but it can start earlier or later. When it’s earlier, it is referred to as precocious puberty; later, delayed puberty.
In addition to their dealing with the arrival or expectation of breasts and periods, being early or late to puberty can come with another set of emotions: embarrassment about being the first or last among your peers to start changing. Simply put, starting puberty early or late can dent a girl’s self-esteem.
The most important thing is to not be embarrassed to talk about it with her. Help her understand more about puberty and separate fact from fiction to support her if she’s worried.
What is body confidence?
How you can help
Self-esteem workshops for the classroom
Self-esteem resources for youth leaders
Article date: 31 August 2015
Review date: 31 August 2016
Being body confident
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