In today’s image and body obsessed society, it’s becoming increasingly hard to protect our kids from bad influences that may lead to tragic actions - teenage suicide, anorexia, low self esteem issues. In a recent study conducted by The Child Study Center in New York found that girls ages 10 and 12 in the Tweens group are confronted with ‘Teen’ issues, such as dating and sex, at increasingly earlier ages. Among 8-12 year olds, 73% dress like teens and talk like teens. Furthermore, Tween girls in this age group were found to be more worried about being teased and made fun of than they are about being attacked with a weapon or being kidnapped. The key to shaping stronger women of tomorrow is to start engaging young girls of today in kids activities that help develop confidence and control so they don’t need to strive for skin-deep, media-induced goals.
Asking young girls to describe or talk to you about how they honestly feel about themselves can be confronting for them. Instead, you could try to encourage them to express about themselves visually - in the form of arts and crafts. In their choice of art medium, ask them to create a collage of female figures they admire and spires to. They can be athletes, authors, artist or a family friend. Next, ask for them to create another collage comprised of images of females portrayed by the media that appeals to them - models, TV presenters, actors. This is a good art exercise for young girls to see how different ‘real’ women are compared to those portrayed by the media. It is also a good exercise for young girls to realise what qualities a strong, intelligent and confident woman should have.
Health and Fitness
Teaching girls from a young age the importance of eating healthy, staying active and how to look after their health is crucial to their transformation into confident women in the future. Physical activities - particularly team sports such as Netball and Hockey can help boost a girl’s self-esteem in many ways. Team sports under the guidance of professional coaches help girls feel more in control, more self-confident, less stress and more competent. Being fit and focus in competitive sports also has good roll-over effects on better teamwork skills and school grades.
Discover areas of talent
Trying out new hobbies and exploring interests outside of school is a great way for young girls to discover new talents. This is particularly recommended to girls that tends to be shy or lack self confidence because they are not performing well in school and feel that they have no particular area of talent to stand out from the crowd. Encourage girls to try out something that they’ve been having a growing interest in or something that’s a bit out of the ordinary like Tap Dancing! Learning new skills in areas that not everyone knows how to do will help girls to feel more confident and empowered about themselves.
It’s great that your daughters have positive female role models that they look up to in the media but they need other influential female figures in their lives to provide guidance, apart from you. Connecting with a female mentor on a regular basis allow girls to see similarities in themselves and learn how the mentor worked through similar issues to become successful. Be on the look out for mentor program at school or in your local community that best suit your daughter’s needs.
Dress up and feel good
The next time you go shopping with your daughters, instead of dictating what they should wear and buy, be open minded to what they want to experiment with. See this as an opportunity for you to have a positive influence, rather than being a controlling mum. If your daughter sees a nice dress that they like but you feel that it’s too revealing for their age, start off with positive comments that you love the colour or style of the dress but you feel that if the cutting is a bit different, it would look better on them. If your daughter is getting into make up from a young age, educate them about the importance of skincare first and how make up is only for fun and experiments and not a necessity to looking beautiful.
Last but not least, remember that a mother’s behaviour and words also have strong influence on young girls’ journey to self confidence so stay positive and be encouraging. Our ActiveActivities directory have many more girls empowering activities for you and your daughter to explore.