Self-esteem refers to beliefs about yourself, and it is a combination of your own thoughts as well as input from people around you. Self-esteem improves confidence and the ability to handle difficult situations, but, without self-esteem, a child might feel depressed or even develop mental health problems like eating disorders. According to Dr. Anita Gurian, writing for Education.com, self-esteem climaxes near age 9 for girls but then plummets. By being aware of the factors that affect your 10-year-old’s opinion of herself, you can help prevent her self-esteem from dropping.
Show love and support to your 10-year-old girl. You want your child to feel you love her no matter what. If your daughter feels bad about a grade on a test, say something like “I know you did your best, and I’m proud of you.”
Praise your daughter, even if the accomplishment seems small. According to Katie Hurley, child and family psychotherapist, kids need feedback from parents. Make your praise specific; instead of just saying “good job,” say “Good job catching that fly ball at baseball practice today.”
Point out your daughter’s strengths. Your daughter might have a low opinion of her ability in one subject at school, so first show empathy followed by mentioning a subject at which she excels. You can even mention your girl’s strengths in front of her siblings or your spouse while she’s in earshot.
Be a good role model for your 10-year-old. If your daughter hears you make negative remarks about your appearance or your body, she is more likely to follow those same habits.
Encourage your daughter to play a team sport. Physical activity, Gurian reports, enhances a girl’s mental health, reduces stress and depression and increases feelings of strength and confidence. These positive feelings contribute to healthy self-esteem.
Encourage your daughter to try something new. It is possible your 10-year-old might fail at something, but the important part is that she tried. By not allowing your daughter to try, you foster feelings of incompetence. Making mistakes is a valuable lesson for a 10-year-old that teaches acceptance and problem-solving skills.
Correct incorrect beliefs. If your daughter says things like “I know I can’t do well on my test” or “I’m too fat,” bring a positive perspective to your child. Respond with “You studied hard for your test, and I know you’ll do your best” or “The girls you see in magazines are not as thin as they look. I think you are beautiful just the way you are.”
Don’t be afraid to discuss advertisements in magazines or television with your daughter. The media portrays girls in a sexualized way, and many girls around age 10 say they want to lose weight because of pictures they see in media, Gurian says. Ask questions about advertisements and whether they make your daughter feel she needs to have something they sell or if she wants to change her appearance because of the ad. By discussing these topics, you sensitize your daughter to media trends and how advertisements use these tools to have emotional effects on girls.
Listen to your daughter and ask questions to encourage her to talk. Many girls around age 10 start feeling bad about their body shape or might encounter subjects like dating for the first time. By actively listening to your child, you show her that her thoughts and feelings matter. After listening, you can follow up with showing empathy and redirecting any negative beliefs she might have about herself.
Encourage your daughter to get involved with activities that interest her. Don’t let her fall into stereotypes by limiting her choices; instead, offer chances for her to help fix the sink, volunteer to build homes or explore with a chemistry set.