Q: My daughter has been a bubbly, outspoken girl since her first words. She is in the 7th grade and I fear she is losing her outgoing personality. She’s also less decisive and confident. I believe in raising assertive, young women and want to support her however I can. I would appreciate any tools, strategies, and suggestions to help my daughter find her inner-self and get back her sparkling personality.
A: Part II of this series continues addressing your tween’s self-esteem. While Part I addressed the groundwork for promoting a healthy self-esteem, Part II features life skills and activities you can incorporate into your tween’s life to build a confident, well-rounded daughter.
- Media Literacy: Have regular conversations with your tween about social media. Discussing privacy, appropriate vs. inappropriate content, and frequency of use will guide her toward being a savvy user and avoiding common pitfalls. If appropriate, you can disclose some problems you encountered with social media. For example, you can describe a situation where a message believed to be private was seen by others.
- Coping Skills: Self-soothing and emotion regulation skills are necessary during the tween years. Teaching your daughter to journal, relax, and practice diaphragmatic breathing during times of stress are life skills she can use for the rest of her life. Hot self-soothing skills right now are mindfulness-based activities and the coloring book craze.
- Participation: A great way for your daughter to gain confidence around others is to have her participate in activities. Girl Scouts, a church group, or a youth team are ways she can be exposed to new people and further develop her social skills. These experiences encourage tweens to be more confident as they enter new social settings. People tend to be less prone to anxiety in new situations when they had significant exposure to novel circumstances in their past.
- Diversity: Learn about a new culture, attend a community gathering, volunteer with Special Olympics, or visit with neighbors who moved from outside of the country. These types of activities promote both comfort and acceptance of differences.
- Friendships: Support your daughter’s friendships by allowing her to have friends accompany family outings, such as shopping or playing mini golf. You can also help her navigate friendships by emphasizing her friend’s positive characteristics. For example, “Kendra is such a great friend. It seems like you girls are always inviting each other over. It’s important friends both invite us places and spend time with us when we request it.” Another lesson is teaching your daughter the value of face-to-face time versus device time. Tweens may be in constant communication with friends via text and Instagram, but it is more important to spend time together in person.
- Fashion: Allow your daughter to develop her own fashion sense. Fashion is a critical aspect of identity. There are some limits to appropriate clothes (skirt length, etc.), but fashion is a way for her to reveal her personality.
- Sports/Outdoors: Participation in sports and outdoor activities develops physical strength and motor coordination. While not every tween is eager to play catch with dad, time outdoors walking in a park or on the swing set with a sibling builds confidence in coordination skills. Time outdoors can instill a connection with nature, healthy risk-taking, and a sense of adventure.
- Self-Esteem Boosting Projects: Activities geared toward self-expression provide an opportunity to build confidence. For instance, I like making self-esteem posters with clients by having girls cut out images from magazines and create collages representing themselves. Another idea is to create their name with each letter paired with a descriptor about themselves (for example: Loving; Original, Realistic, Inspiring).