Seven in 10 girls believe that they are not good enough or don’t measure up in some way, including their looks, performance in school, and relationships with friends and family.
Seventy-five percent of girls with low self-esteem reported engaging in negative activities like cutting, bullying, smoking, drinking, or disordered eating.
Over 70 percent of girls aged 15 to 17 avoid normal daily activities, such as attending school, when they feel bad about their looks.
That’s why experts say it’s time to focus on what our girls are instead of what they aren’t. So how do you raise girls who turn into women who change the world?
“What we really emphasize is yes, being strong, being assertive, being self-confident, having a voice,” said Anne Bubriski-McKenzi, a professor of Women & Gender Studies at UCF.
But your child cannot be confident without being taught one thing.
“One of the things I work really hard to is encouraging their courage, doing it early and doing it often. Rather than, you know, receiving that message of like, oh, that’s not safe. Or, you know, don’t do that. Trying to create opportunities for yes. How can we create those opportunities to create that feeling of capability and success?” said Dalena Dillman Taylor, a Psychologist at UCF Marriage and Family Research Institute.
It all begins with how parents speak to their 2-, 3- and 4-year-olds.
“Instead of the first, you know, you’re pretty, or it’s, you’re really smart. I really like how you express yourself that way. I really like your competence. I really like your assertiveness,” Bubriski-McKenzi said.
Remember, kids will mimic what they see.
“I think the biggest thing for really big, strong, confident girls is creating opportunities and role models that have strong, confident women,” Dillman Taylor said.
It turns out that dads play an important role in shaping their daughter’s positive self-esteem. Studies show a powerful relationship between father and daughter begins around age 2 and lasts a lifetime, but the formative years are ages 2 through 4. If that relationship between father and daughter is strained at an early age, it can make for a lifetime of internal challenges and struggles with the opposite sex.