8 Ways You Can Help Build Your Daughter's Self-Esteem & Confidence

Licensed marriage family therapist By Jennie Marie Battistin, MA, LMFT
Licensed marriage family therapist
Jennie Marie Battistin, MA, LMFT is a licensed marriage family therapist, author, and The founding director of Hope Therapy Center Inc. Marriage and Family Counseling of Burbank, CA and Santa Clarita, CA.
Woman / mom with her arm around her teenage daughter outside on the beach during fall / winter!

While all children can struggle with confidence and self-esteem, girls are especially at risk of having lower reported self-esteem and confidence. Research shows girls are much more likely to self-harm when stressed or depressed or develop eating disorders when they have low self-esteem. Recent research has revealed, quite alarming, girls think about suicide at twice the rate of boys ages 10 to 14.

As a mother of grown daughters, I have watched them grow and struggle. Today, my daughter and I help other mothers and daughters navigate their relationship, build positive self-esteem, and increase confidence in our coaching business. Recently in a podcast for Parenting Our Future, we talked about her experience of what was helpful as she was a girl. We discussed the challenges she faced as a child actor and how I helped her grow her confidence and have a strong sense of herself. As Mother's Day draws near, I thought I would share my eight tips to help you and your daughter. 

Help your daughter have healthy self-esteem and confidence:

1. Develop new skill sets.

Help her develop a new skill or increase mastery of something to enjoy. Confidence can soar when you feel good about acquiring and mastering a new skill. See, as you increase mastery, the better you tend to feel; developing a new skill can help your daughter feel capable and unique. Identify an interest that your daughter has and help her excel at a skill related to it.

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2. Let her create her own style.

Allow your daughter to have her unique style with her hair and clothing; this can develop a fantastic footing for self-esteem and confidence. Finding an identity through one's appearance can create positive benefits for self-confidence. Remember, hair can grow, and style will change; it is OK if they don't match your preference.  

3. Express your love for her.

Communicate that your love isn't conditional. Regardless of her choices or level of success, let her know she is loved.

4. Sign her up for team sports.

Research has identified that team sports increase confidence in girls. Sports are a fabulous avenue to build social skills, make friends, and learn skills such as teamwork and good communication. Additionally, learning how to handle losses is important for self-esteem and confidence.

5. Be a shining example.

You may not realize it, but your daughter is always watching your example. If she sees her mother negatively judging her own self, this can send a negative message that your daughter will internalize. Nudge your partner to watch their words as well because their words can affect a girl's confidence. Consider how your daughter interprets your behavior and comments.

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6. Praise effort, not only successes.

Success isn't possible all of the time. Take a moment to acknowledge your daughter's effort. It's counterproductive to be critical or question how they could have done better when your child did the best they could. Asking why she thinks she got a B+ instead of an A when you saw how hard she studied can be destructive to confidence.

7. Teach assertiveness.

The ability to direct and influence your own life is the core of assertiveness. When you teach your daughter how to be assertive she will be less swayed by everyone around her. Help her share her opinion, identify and communicate her values, and increase her awareness of those who respect her opinions and values.

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8. Embrace adventure.

Encourage your daughter to try something new each year. A new activity, hobby, or extracurricular can be a little scary, but helping her work through apprehension with something new can boost her self-esteem and confidence.

The takeaway.

You have an important role in building your daughter's confidence and self-esteem; consider this responsibility seriously. If your daughter demonstrates significant struggles with self-esteem and confidence that affect her socialization with peers or impairment in school, seek professional assistance from a therapist.

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