Five Tips for Dads to Nourish Their Daughters’ Self-Esteem
“Your body isn’t who you are. It’s what you’re in.”
Most dads out there want the very best for their little girls. This includes establishing strong self-esteem, healthy body image, and relentless confidence. An unshakable foundation of self-worth can be built upon a father’s words.
As someone who struggled severely with negative body image, I don’t want anyone else, girls especially, to feel the immense insecurity that comes with low self-esteem. It’s detrimental to the careers we pursue, the decisions we make, and the relationships we attract. Confident are the ones who will go places and make the world better for everyone.
Feeling beautiful and valued based on who you are, not what you look like, is immeasurably profound. And dads have the innate power to plants the seeds of positive body image for their daughters and nourish those seeds to grow.
Here are five powerful tips dads can utilise to support their daughters’ self-esteem:
Affirmations are a simple, yet powerful way of endorsing positivity. The more often you see and say positive statements, the more likely you are to start thinking the and believing them. Posting affirmations on the mirror is a quick and easy way for your daughter to be reminded of her positive attributes and focus on them throughout the day. All you need is some paper, markers, and happy statements. Some ideas include: I have beautiful hair / I’m good at maths / I’m really smart / I have a great smile / I’m respectful and kind / I’m strong and mighty. Every time your daughter is in front of the mirror, have her say the affirmation aloud (with conviction, like she means it!).
Play “I’m Great, Too!”
If your daughter ever feels envious of someone else for something (on social media, at school, etc), she can play the “I’m great, too!” game. No matter what the other person looks like or has achieved, whatever it is they have that your daughter doesn’t, just have her do a quick hand clap and say, “And I’m great too!” She can follow this with a positive statement about herself. This immediately takes attention away from the envy and onto appreciating her own good qualities, without diminishing what the other person has. (Works great for adults, too; just sayin’.)
Practice Goodnight Gratitude (a.k.a: Body Thanks)
This tip combines good self-esteem and daily gratitude into one. Goodnight gratitude is a bedtime activity you can do together, with one person mirroring the other. It involves lightly placing your palms on your body, from your head to your toes, giving gratitude for each part as you thank your way down. Have your daughter start by placing her palms on her head and saying, “Thank you, head”, then place her palms on her ears and say, “Thank you, ears”, then over her eyes, “Thank you, eyes”, then onto her nose, “Thank you, nose”, followed by, “Thank you, lips… Thank you, arms… Thank you, hands… Thank you, heart… Thank you, tummy…” etc.
You can be as broad or specific as you like. This practice encourages your daughter to be thankful for her body and everything it does. This serves to remind her that her body is amazing, which will magnify her respect and gratitude for its health, functionality, and purpose over its mere physical shape and form.
Seek Beauty in Actions
Modern society would have us believe that beauty comes from makeup, plastic surgery, fillers and filters. Kids know better than that, but will often grow out of this wisdom with age. Be creative in how you approach what beauty is and what it looks like. Compliment your daughter often on her character and personality, her kindness, her efforts. Take note of the countless ways in which she demonstrates her beauty to the world. You can say things like, “You’re beautiful when you’re listening… You’re beautiful when you’re painting… You’re beautiful when you’re sharing… You’re
beautiful when you’re eating your vegetables…” etc. This will encourage her to see the beauty in her actions and behaviour; sincere beauty that has nothing to do with her looks.
Lead By Example
This can be the trickiest one to commit to consistently. The little comments you say about your own looks and about other people’s appearances often don’t pass under the radar. You never know what your kids are picking up and soaking in. It’s tremendously important to speak kindly of yourself and others; to lead by example. Focus on your own positive attributes to encourage your children to do the same. If you’ve got incredible biceps, proudly flex them! If you look great in green, say so! Speak confidently of yourself and your daughter will see it’s a good and common practice for her to do the same.
Stefanie Fields is a certified hypnotherapist and children’s book author. Her second book, You’re Beautiful When, was written with a passion and purpose to encourage girls to feel good about themselves. Click here to learn more, or to purchase a copy of You’re Beautiful When.