Building Self-esteem for tweens
People with good self-esteem recognize and understand their feelings and know their strengths and weaknesses. The Dove Self-Esteem Project campaign (www.dove.us/social-mission) “aims to prevent the damage caused when young people develop low self-esteem from hang-ups about their looks.” It is aimed towards teen and tween girls. Their website includes a booklet on building self esteem with tween girls. The Self-Esteem Discussion Guide is for mothers of girls aged 11-16. Their social mission is “to encourage all women and girls to develop a positive relationship with beauty, helping to raise their self-esteem, and thereby enabling them to realize their full potential.”
One of the problems facing young girls is body image, and seeing the extremely thin models and actresses in magazines and other media has been shown to have a negative affect on tweens. Dove also sends the message that mothers need to accept their bodies so that daughters will follow their behavior.
Kids Health (www.kidshealth.com) has an article about this topic, describing healthy self-esteem “like a child’s armor against the challenge of the world.” Those who have a good sense of self seem able to handle pressure and conflict and enjoy life more easily. Without that strength, challenges produce frustration and anxiety, and it is difficult to solve problems.
Tween Parenting (www.tweenparenting.about.com) says that the more kids value the activities they do well, the better their self-worth. In a book called Life Span Development, author John Santrock suggests that parents need to emphasize their child’s talents. For example, if your child is a good athlete but has problems in academics, make the athletics as important as school work. Other suggestions from Tween Parenting are:
- Listen and pay attention – restate what child says.
- Encourage additional sources of support – both peer relationships and adult supportive relationships are important.
- Let them fail – According to the NYU Child Study Center, people gain confidence by trying new things and meeting challenges. You have to keep trying.
- Be a good model – Bea good role model by avoiding the negative comments.
Psychology Today (www.psychologytoday.com/blog also deals with the issue of self-esteem with tweens. The Importance of Building Self Confidence in Children is from a book by Psychology Today called You and Your Tween: Help Your Child Enjoy Their Pre-Teen Years. It offers expert knowledge about this subject. It also mentions keeping the pressure off, giving encouragement, listening, and avoid criticizing (emphasize behavior and not the child).
Los Angeles has groups for self-esteem(www.groups.psychologytoday.com) One of those is called Athena: A Support Group for Teen Girls. It is run by Sue Brekka, M.A., MFT, Los Angeles, CA 900025. Since the goddess Athena symbolizes wisdom, courage, creativity, and other good qualities, this group is to help girls find who they are and to face issues in their lives so that they can gain self-esteem.
Another group listed is PreTeen Talk, led by Kristine Gottesman, M.A.,MFTi. This group focuses on support for preteens grades 5, 6, and 7 in the social and academic areas. Los Angeles. CA 90064, 818-923-1038. Dana Zienert, MFT, runs a girl’s empowerment group for tweens 11-13. Through different activities, the girls will explore ways to cope with issues and build self confidence. Los Angeles, CA 90036, 310-431-9937.
If you take the advice of the experts, encouraging rather than criticizing your child, they will benefit greatly, and they will be on the road to building self-esteem!