Back when I found out I was having a baby girl I couldn't help but get excited about braiding her hair and buying her little tutus. Then I got scared. I remembered all my teenage insecurities and how challenging those years can be, particularly for a girl who doesn't have high self-esteem. So yes, I did get her a tutu and I try to braid her hair if she sits still (she just 2 years-old now) but I do realize one of the most important things I can help her with is self-esteem.
Cindy Breilh from the humanitarian organization World Vision offered some great ideas on how to empower women and girls, and many of those tips can be useful parents as their teens enter those very influential years.
Teach your teen the value of volunteering and donating, particularly to help other women and teen girls.
Breilh shares that in countries like Afghanistan, Sierra Leone, and Bolivia, having a baby is one of the most dangerous things a woman can do. You and your daughter can visit StrongWomenStrongWorld.org for details to help train local midwives in remote communities -- essentially giving other kids the best shot at life. I love this idea. You can also talk about how in poor communities worldwide many girls do not attend school and instead have to fetch clean water for their village. By helping them get clean water, it's helping those girls get an education. These are just two examples -- there are so many causes you can choose with your teen. Empowering women and teens who have less than you can empower your teen (and your family) as well.
Mentor a girl close to home.
There are many kids right in your hometown who could really grow from help from other kids. Show your teenager that she can be a mentor to other teens in her community (or perhaps she would even benefit from having a mentor other than you). Big Brothers Big Sisters is one organization that helps pair mentors, but there also may be other options in your area.
Encourage your daughter to surround herself with like-minded women.
Whatever her passion is -- soccer, knitting, music, fashion, art -- help her find the right programs to further explore and it could help her build strong friendships with other teens with similar goals and interests. This is a great way to keep any teen out of trouble, and helps them really explore positive interests.
Make sure your daughter knows you care and are proud of her accomplishments, big and small.
Everyone in the family should take part in this -- celebrate the good your teen does (sometimes we get caught up in the negative). Encourage her to do the same to her peers, as many kids get too wrapped up in competition. Make sure she knows it's not about who is better at something, but how each person should strive to be their best selves.
I know this all makes it sound easy. I'm fearing those teen years! But I'm filing these ideas away and pulling them out when it's time.
Can you share other ways to build your teen daughter's self-esteem?
Image via emdot/Flickr