I have a teenage daughter who is on social media. I worry about her self-esteem and her comparing herself to other girls on social media. How do I help her develop strong self-esteem in this social media visually driven world we are immersed in?”
Great question! Worrying about our daughter’s self esteem, especially in regards to body image and media, has been around for a long time. For decades, women have been used in print and television media to sell and promote various items and goods. They have been touched up, airbrushed and Photoshopped for years. Social media has certainly taken its place as the primary vehicle for teens to get information and feedback.
First of all, continue to do the good things that parents do to instill good self-esteem:
Do things as a family
Help your daughter build sets of skills and ways to express herself
Encourage sports teams or other group based activities (band, theater, etc.).
Next, watch how you, as her parents, interact with her:
Don’t criticize your own body in front of her, i.e.“Doesn’t my butt look big in these jeans?”
Don’t wear her clothes. Allow her to develop her own sense of style and image.
Teach her to be self sufficient and allow her to learn the same skills that you would a son: change a tire, drive, mow the lawn, play ball, learn sports, etc.
Remember, that one-on-one time with a father is important!
Don’t talk about food as “good” or “bad.” Talk about balance and what helps to keep our bodies healthy.
Have a conversation about what your daughter is seeing. If she’s watching the Kardashians on television, talk with her about what she is thinking. Help her to develop a critical lens to translate and decode what is the message behind the ad or show.
If you continue to be concerned or notice your daughter becoming withdrawn, overly negative or changing her sleep, weight or eating habits, contact a professional. An assessment with a good therapist can give her support to get through a difficult time as well as screen for anything that may need further intervention.
As always, keep the conversation going. We can’t help them travel the path if they don’t have a map and a guide.