Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Advice Required - Self-Esteem in Young Girls... My Girl

My first-born will celebrate her 8th birthday next month. It's a landmark age, when she leaves behind her early childhood and takes one step toward adolescence. Surprisingly, I find my eyes tearing and my heart clenching as I write this.

I didn't expect that. Nor did I expect to be delving into researching how I can build her self-esteem and help her develop a healthy body-image at this stage in my parenting journey.

I've always intended to raise my children with strong, healthy self-esteem. I know that a child's internal sense of security is what assures parents that they'll make the right choices for themselves as they navigate those wondrous, often treacherous tween and teen years.

Before having children I was certain I'd sail flawlessly through that goal and raise amazingly confident, secure daughters. Then you have them and you realize parenting isn't that easy. In the grand scheme of parenting, having a baby is easy, caring for a newborn is easy, toddler tantrums... well, they pass.

Every age, every phase has it's challenges, but this is the first time I'm scared. I'm scared because I see signs in my amazing, intelligent, beautiful daughter that I never thought I'd see.

"Are you sure my face doesn't look a little fat, Mom?" she asked on the way home from school one day last week. A few days later she demonstrated very clear anxiety that her tummy looks puffier than normal. Let me assure you, since I don't post many photographs of my girls, she is the picture of perfect health.

And I've always been very proud of her for the healthy food choices she makes... but now, I wonder...

It isn't just body image that has me concerned, either. Occasionally, she'll lose her temper with her sister - the benchmark of normal sibling-hood, of course - and she'll pinch or hit. I'm not as concerned with that behavior as I am her reaction of screaming and crying that she's so stupid and running away and hiding. This one's had me worried for a while, but I'd hoped if I stayed cool it would fade into distant memory.

It's challenging to comfort the hurt child and calm her at the same time. I haven't always handled myself nearly as well as I wish I had. I haven't always been the best mom, but every single time I have ever lost my temper and acted like a crazy woman instead of a calm, compassionate mommy, I have apologized. I have made certain to tell them that when I lose my control, it is more about me than them.

I'm not a praise junkie, but I don't withhold it either. Oh gosh, can you believe how our children's issues get us questioning ourselves? I swear Motherhood has been my own biggest challenge in confidence! .

I have no worries with my Sweet Rose. She has the confidence of a Queen! It makes me wonder how two girls raised of the same parents can feel so differently about themselves. And what do I do? I feel like I have at most a year or two to get her on the right track; to change her self-talk and encourage her to develop a deep love for herself or we could be facing real trials a few years down the road.

So, I'm asking for some help, dear readers. First, tell me, anonymously if necessary, if and when your own self-esteem issues began and what they were. What's your best tip for promoting a healthy self-esteem in your children? And anything else you feel might help!

Now, as I usually do when faced with a challenge... I'm headed to the library. There is research to be done.

PS: I've signed up as an affiliate with the program on the banner. If I get 3 purchases I'll be able to take the course myself! So, please share! Share! Share! It's a great resource for parents and teaches alike and no, you don't need to start a new career or get certified! ;) 

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