Teenage girls self-esteem is often particularly vulnerable and shaky. They are very emotional as they go through hormonal changes. At the same time, they are seeing teens on TV that appear to be perfect, at least physically. The root of teenage girls' self-esteem problems is often that they believe they are less valuable or attractive than others, that they don’t measure up to the images of perfection shown on TV.
Physical appearance and popularity with boys are usually listed as the biggest things that affect teenage girls self-esteem. It is also affected by popularity with other girls and the dynamics of their family. If one child is favored over another, or even if the teenage girl perceives that another child is held in more favor, it wreaks havoc with her self-esteem.
Weight problems (real or imagined) and acne are some of the top things girls struggle with during the teenage years. Any sense that your daughter doesn’t “fit in” will affect her self-esteem. Not being included in social events, not being chosen for a club or sports team, or rejection by the opposite sex are other stressful events in the lives of teenage girls.
How can you as a parent help heal your daughter’s self-esteem? For parents, the biggest gift you can give your child is the gift of listening. It’s important that your daughter know that you are interested in hearing what is going on with her, and that it is safe to share her feelings, no matter how painful they are. The teen years can be tough for parents too, because parents often don’t want to remember just how painful the teenage years were.
One thing that also affects teenage girls self-esteem is that young girls today have to handle things at a much younger age than their parents did, often long before they are emotionally ready. This may make it difficult for parents to relate. Don’t dismiss your teen’s feelings just because they are happening at such a young age.
Signs that your daughter may be having serious problems and need professional help are eating disorders or signs of clinical depression, such as sleeping all the time or lack of energy and motivation. Pay attention to what she is saying, but pay equal attention to what she is not saying and any signs that she may not be okay.
You are your daughter’s role model. Sharing with her the painful events that you survived will be healing for her. Setting an example of good self-esteem as an adult is another way you can help your daughter. Assure her that these difficult days will pass for her, as they did for you. And be there for her to the best of your ability.