Help Your Daughter Build Her Self-Esteem

I think everyone can agree that it's not easy to be a teenager. We got pimples, we started liking boys more than we did before, our hormones were out of whack-the list goes on and on. While there were some good points, the teen years were a pretty bumpy ride for some of us. I don't know about anyone else, but I was the 'class nerd'. There were so many other girls who were prettier and more popular than I was, who got all the guys and never seemed to have the self-esteem issues I did. Looking back, I see that many of those girls had the same problems I did in terms of anxiety and self-doubt. Now that we are on the other side of the 'divide', you may be wondering how you can instill a positive self-image in your daughter so that she won't have the kind of feelings we did. While some of those problems are hormonal, there is a lot we as women can do to help our daughters feel good about themselves and see themselves for the wonderful young ladies they are.

One thing you could do is encourage her to be herself. Much of the anxiety young people go through comes from not really knowing who they are and where they fit into the world. This can be especially stressful if we do not fit the standard 'mold' of the other girls around us. Encourage her in her interests, even if you do not share them. If she's into art, encourage her with art classes or a set of paints. If she's into cooking, find a recipe the two of you can make together. The point is to encourage her to be herself and to find her unique talents rather than feeling that she has to fit a mold. Give her praise, and avoid comparing her to others. Even if you do have to give her negative feedback, do so tactfully. Be honest, but constructive.

Also, be careful about your own self-image. If she hears you putting yourself down, she may begin to do the same. Remember, kids learn more from what they see us do than what they hear us say. We are their primary role-models as to how to live as a woman, even if we don't think they're paying attention.

Spend a lot of one-on-one time with her, and let her know you're available if she ever needs you. She might not say so, but feeling that her parents accept her and are there for her is a big comfort for many teenagers.

While no parent is perfect, doing what you can to build your daughter's self-esteem is something that will have positive effects throughout her life. Sometimes mine wavers, as does everyone else. Still, one thing I will always remember is how my mother encouraged me and spent time with me. She did a lot in terms of making me feel good about myself, more than she could ever know.


  1. My God this article was SO helpful!! I really struggled with my self esteem in middle school and high school; hell, after having 3 kids I still struggle with my self-esteem. Honestly, I was at a loss on where to begin with helping my daughters not get caught up in the same negativity I did, after all, I didn't have any help with that growing up. But now after reading this, I don't feel so overwhelmed, I feel like I have a starting point now.

  2. I had the same problems with negativity, and sometimes still do. I definitely agree with the comments about modeling a good motivates me to try to see *myself* in a good way, if only to be a help to my daughter.

  3. Thanks so much! It's good to know I am appreciated!

  4. Well, you are appreciated. I have got a teen daughter myself, and oh the hormones and drama and low self image. I've been looking for advice on how to approach her and help her with these things.