Studies have shown that a girl’s self-esteem peaks at age nine and plummets from there. As a mom to twin girls, this just breaks my heart. It’s one of the reasons I created GiRLiFE workshops to make an impact on the confidence and self-esteem of the next generation of women.
As the women who are leading today’s girls, we can do things in our own homes and communities to help combat the plummet of self-esteem they face – and it starts with us. There are nine things you can start doing today that will help #RedefineNine and help keep our girls from losing their confidence.
Say No To Filters
Photo filters were made popular by Instagram in the infancy of their business. Giving users the ability to make an average smartphone photo of the ocean or your cute pup to look professionally touched up, was a key attribute to their explosive growth. While that’s lovely, what it’s become is a way for the majority of us to gloss over our physical ‘blemishes’ and ‘imperfections.’ Going as far as changing the shape of our noses or the color of our eyes. Our girls see filters put on other photos and think it’s an ideal they need to live up to. When it comes to a picture that you post of yourself, do your best to let go of adding a filter. Show your girl that you accept yourself as-is, and you accept her as-is, too.
Your Self Talk
Our internal dialogue can be quite cruel and we know that our damaging self talk can start early in a girl’s life. You may remember when you started feeling aware of your changing body, and social pressures began. You may have witnessed a parent or care-giver speak aloud negative self-talk. These things get passed down to our girls, even if we don’t intend it – it may have been passed down to you. Be very mindful of how you speak about yourself in front of the girl in your life. She’s looking to you to see if she should speak kindly or cruelly to herself. Change your outer dialogue about yourself and you’ll see the benefit, too.
Model Yourself To Not Be A People Pleaser
Too often, especially as women, we are conditioned to be uncomfortable so others around us aren’t. From a sexist joke that you feel you must smile through, to a stranger putting their hands on your pregnant belly even though you never invited them to touch your body. It’s time to give yourself permission to hold personal boundaries that don’t compromise your ability to be comfortable in this world. To not please others who are crossing those boundaries. When you model this, your girl will see the world with a lens of being able to hold her boundaries. Seeing you do it, gives her the permission she needs to do the same.
How Not To Greet A Girl
Yes, all of our girls are beautiful, and it’s so easy to tell them so. But if all they hear is how “cute,” “pretty,” and “beautiful” they are – they start to associate their worth in this world with their outer appearance. When we really get to know the girl in our life, we know that it’s her intelligence, cleverness, boldness, kindness, wit and more, that truly make her beautiful – she shines! It’s easy to default to calling her “beautiful” when we see these amazing qualities in her, because those qualities truly are beautiful. The problem with that is she isn’t privy to your intent – so it’s important to verbalize her amazing qualities that in their whole make her who she is. Tell her how much you admire her hard work on her clarinet solo, how fierce she was on the soccer field, or how proud of her you were when she stood up for a friend. Let her know that she’s more than just her appearance.
Practicing Our Own Passions
Social pressures can start to build up at an early age, not to mention smartphones and social media. The things that your girl may have been passionate about can get pushed to the wayside due to these new interests or peer pressures to do something else. Making time for your own hobbies and passions is another permission slip for our girls to follow their own path. Model this by making time for your own passions, invite your girl to do it with you even and let her explore new things with you. The added benefit is that you will find joy reconnecting with the things that light you up – and that’s always a good thing!
Women Supporting Women
One of the most damaging things we can do is hold another woman down. It’s detrimental to our advancement and to the generation of girls we are raising. It’s important for them to see us support one another for obvious reasons, but the number one reason is so that they have the confidence to boldly pursue their dreams without fear of ridicule or embarrassment from other women. Our world gets better, kinder, more innovative when women are in leadership roles, create businesses and take the lead – we need to make sure we are supporting the ones brave enough to try. Our girls learn how to be champions of other girls when they see us do the same.
Get Connected To Your Intuition
Too often, we come to the rescue of our girls, doing things for them, solving their problems or getting too involved in their challenges. While it’s well meaning, what it ultimately does is teach them to look outside of themselves for answers instead of inward. We can take away the opportunity for them to practice looking inward for the answers to their questions and challenges. Instead, work towards guiding your girl to listen for her inner knowing – teach her to turn up the volume of her inner voice, and turn down the volume of doubt and fear. Do the same in your own life, work towards connecting with your intuition so she can see how it’s done in real time.
Power Of Choice – Responsibility Or Blame
In every possible situation, we have a choice. We get to choose how we respond to situations, we get to respond to the content we consume, the friends we keep, and the actions we take. It’s so easy to quickly place blame when things go poorly, but in doing that, we are giving away our power. When we choose to take responsibility for all things in our lives, good or bad, we keep our power and are able to move forward with a better sense of confidence and self. Model this by taking responsibility for the things in your life, because when your girl sees you do this she is able to do the same, allowing her to keep her power.
“Comparison is the thief of joy.” – Theodore Roosevelt. Your girl is uniquely her, and you are uniquely you – there is no need to compare yourself, or her for that matter, to anyone else. It’s easy to use comparison to try and make a point, but try your absolute best to not. Her way may not be your way. She may like to dress in every color of the rainbow, you might like a black and white wardrobe. She may like to do her math homework starting from the last problem to the first or eat a hamburger sans burger. Avoid saying things like, “The other kids in your class do their homework starting with the first problem, you should too.” Inconsequential comparisons can erode a girl’s confidence as well as your own. If you find that you are comparing yourself to others, forgive yourself and focus on what you uniquely do well.
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