How to Raise A Confident Girl

Confidence and self-esteem are things many people struggle with throughout their lives. 

A study in the journal of Psychology and Aging found that self-esteem can be like a roller coaster. It starts with an inflated sense of self-approval in late childhood, drops during adolescence, rises throughout adulthood, and can plummet to the lowest point in old age.

These issues can begin early on, but it seems teenage girls have an especially difficult time when it comes to body image. The National Association for Self-Esteem finds that girls experience 90% of all eating disorders. The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty released more startling statistics: 92% of teenage girls would like to change something about the way they look with body weight and height ranking highest. The study also claims only 2% of women describe themselves as beautiful.

A Girl Scouts USA study finds that the contradiction in messages directed at girls could be behind these struggles. “On one hand,” the study authors write, “girls are told to be happy the way they are; and on the other hand, they are given the message that being overweight is unhealthy and unattractive. The more physically active girls are, the greater their self-esteem and the more they are satisfied with their weight.”

What can parents do to raise confident children? Especially when it comes to girls?

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Professional Clinical Counselor, Heather Hornibrook, explains why confidence can be critical. “Confident girls grow into confident young women who most likely will have greater self-esteem and self-image, a positive outlook on life, and fulfillment in pursuits like career, job, and family.” Hornibrook offers steps you can take in your home to accomplish these goals:

Encouragement: Support her in pursuing something she is passionate about. Don’t limit her choices.

Good Example: Be a positive role model. She will see what it means to be a strong, powerful, secure woman.

Give Responsibilities: When accomplishing a task, self-confidence grows.

Identify Values: What is most important in your family? Ask yourself, what are the values and traits you want her to develop?

Life Lessons: Turn mistakes into opportunities for learning and growth. If your daughter realizes the mistake is not the end of the world, she will be less likely to avoid new things out of fear of failure.

Healthy Body Image: Don’t praise your daughter solely on appearance. Put emphasis on other accomplishments and encourage healthy eating and activities daily.

Hornibrook says it’s never too early for parents to begin using these confidence-building techniques. “As your child grows, their world increases, and they discover more mirrors including siblings, grandparents, and friends which will shape them into unique individuals. Parents need to guide and support their daughters, encouraging them to be strong and capable young women.”

There are many resources available if you’d like more info.

“Princess Recovery: a How-To Guide to Raising Strong, Empowered 

Girls Who Can Create Their Own Happily Ever Afters” By Jennifer L. Hartstein, PsyD

“Girls will be Girls” By JoAnn Deak

Online resources include:



The Dove Self-Esteem Fund – Girl Scouts of America

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Tags: Featured Story, Parenting

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