How to Be a Role Model for Your Daughter: 3 Secrets to Boost Self Esteem
Photo: Jamiesrabbits / Creative Commons
In our celebrity-obsessed culture, there's no shortage of discussion about who got fat, who lost weight and what so-and-so is wearing. Standing in the checkout line of the grocery store could convince anyone that appearance is the most important news to hit the stands for the past century. Sometimes it can feel like an uphill battle to teach our daughters that there are more important things in life than the size of one's thighs.
Media pressure aside, there are ways you can teach your little girl to think about herself in ways that will boost her self esteem now and preserve her self-worth as she gets older. The course of your daughter's life can be altered in positive ways by focusing on her mind and the quality of her behaviors.
Here's how you can be an encouraging example for her to follow.
1. Talk to Girls About Who They Are, Not What They Look Like
I love this article about how to speak to little girls. The upshot is that it's best to speak with your daughter about what makes her tick - favorite books, for example - as opposed to always fawning over how cute she is or what she's wearing.
The reasoning is that if you always focus on your daughter's appearance, she will remain focused on her outward manifestation. More attention paid to her looks means less time spent on fulfilling intellectual pursuits. If she thinks appearance is the most important thing about her, she is likely to bemoan her imperfections and engage in the self-loathing that so many women suffer when presented with the impossible standards set by airbrushed magazine models.
If you talk to your daughter about her ideas, preferences and interests, she'll get the hint that what's inside her head is interesting, valuable and worth discussing. She will be more likely to enjoy cerebral activities and develop her talents. She'll understand that she's more than just a pretty face.
2. Cultivate Your Own Interests
A great way to help your little girl learn about the world is by extending yourself. How many times have you scanned the headlines on the rags, but skipped over the weightier news magazines? What if you picked up a mag on current events, rather than celebrity gossip? It would certainly keep your brains out of your buns, and it would set an example for your kids to show what's actually more important in the world.
Have you ever toyed with the idea of picking up a hobby, but set it aside because you're in the habit of picking up the TV remote instead? The best way to cultivate your own interests is to ask yourself: What could I be doing to enrich my own life?
What if you regularly engaged in artistic pursuits like scrapbooking, painting, singing or writing? You could volunteer at an animal shelter or read to disadvantaged kids. Or maybe you want to join or start a book club.
Your daughter may enjoy engaging in your hobbies with you, or she might get ideas of her own pursuits by watching you. Either way, she'll understand that there's more to life than what's on TV.
3. Focus on Health and Wellness, Not Fat
Whether we like it or not, bodies are a topic of discussion. Whether it's a serious dissertation about the obesity epidemic, or who got plastic surgery last week, kids are exposed to the idea that being fat is a bad thing. What gets scary is when kids start judging their own bodies, and as a result, alter their mindsets and behaviors in unhealthy ways based on negative motivations.
Frequently, parents add fuel to the fire when we absent-mindedly poke at our pudge and declare war on our bodies with statements like, "I need to go on diet! I need to go the gym!"
To set a good example for our kids, the focus should be on the positive behaviors that boost health and wellness. Rather than measuring the outcome in terms of pounds lost or fat gained, let's talk about how healthy behavior influences our mood, energy, stress levels and quality of sleep.
To positively influence your own wellness and self esteem, set an example by enjoying nutritious food and getting plenty of physical activity because it makes you feel great, improves your outlook, boosts your energy levels, and just plain makes life more enjoyable. If we can model these healthy behaviors and make it clear that it's because we feel better, without belittling ourselves, then we do ourselves a world of good, as well as our daughters.
Think About Your Own Value to Help Your Daughter
Start thinking about your essential self. Ask, "Who am I? And what can I do to shape my life into one I love?" By focusing on your own mind and the quality of your behaviors, you are presented with a treasure map that both you and your daughter can follow for higher self esteem and a happier life.
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