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Where’d Her Self-Esteem Go? + How to Get It Back (Part 1)

Today’s article is the start of a 3-part guest post by Karen Schachter of Dishing with your Daughter. Karen’s mission is to help moms and their daughters to value & nourish themselves, to love their bodies, and to trust their intuition — so, of course, you can see why I’ve been a huge fan of her work since the moment I discovered her. 🙂

In Parts 1, 2, and 3 of this article, you will discover how and when most young girls begin to lose their self-confidence, AND over 15 ways you as a mom (or other positive role model) can help them to recover their high self-esteem.

And PSSSST, here’s a secret! All of the tips Karen shares can be used to boost *your* self-esteem, too! Pick a couple to try, and let me know how it works for you in the comments below!

Where’d Her Self-Esteem Go? (+ 17 Ways to Save It or Get It Back)

by Karen Schachter

Photograph by vancity197Studies show that a girls self-esteem peaks at around age 9. AGE 9!!! WHAT???

Yup, it’s true, and from what I’ve seen in my recent workshops and classes, this research holds some weight. I see girls becoming increasingly aware of – and vulnerable to – the pressures to be popular, smart, pretty, with long legs, liked by boys, and pretty much good at everything. What other people think and feel about her begins to matter more than what SHE thinks and feels about herself.

Sure, some girls manage these external expectations and take them in stride, holding on to their sense of self with just a few healthy bumps and bruises.

But for the many girls who don’t, the pressures they feel collide with psychological and physical development in the pre-teen years, to create a dip in self-esteem and self-worth. (And self-esteem and self-worth are the foundation for a positive body image and healthy nourishment).

I’ve created a list of 17 ideas for you to incorporate into your daughter’s life to help maintain – or build – a healthy self-esteem. These go way deeper than telling her she’s beautiful or smart, or reassuring her when she feels like no one likes her. But they are also not a magic pill…like anything worth doing, supporting and building your daughter’s self-esteem is an ongoing job. (Trust me, the media and her peers are not letting up, so we can’t either!).

Here are the first 6 ideas from my list.
See if you can incorporate at least 1 of them in your life today!

1. Watch what you say about yourself. Every time you put yourself down, you give your daughter permission to put herself down. Be a shining example of self-kindness.

2. Notice the messages in the media she’s engaging in. Talk with her about what she’s seeing; ask her how those messages make her feel; and help her understand that the media is DESIGNED to make her feel badly, so she will buy more stuff! State your opinions loud and clear.

3. Watch movies and read books that empower girls and women. For some fabulous lists, check out, my new favorite resource! (Personally, I can not wait for “Brave” to hit the big screen!)

4. Encourage your daughter to do something daring (better yet, do it with her). I loved watching the girls (and moms!) at my retreat last summer participate in the zip-line experience, despite being nervous. Doing something that feels “hard” is a huge confidence booster, and you can draw upon that experience later, when she’s feeling nervous about something scary.

5. Help her use her voice. “Nice girls” are subtly encouraged to stay “sweet” and not speak out. This keeps her “small” and stuck. Encourage her to speak her mind (even if you don’t like what she might have to say).

6. Along the same lines, allow and accept a range of behavior. Don’t make compliments and attention contingent upon “good girl” behavior only.

Come back Friday for Part 2 of this article and learn 6 more ideas for helping you and your daughter build great self-esteem!

Karen SchachterKaren Schachter believes that each of us deserve to feel nourished, joyful and at peace with food and in our lives. She helps women and girls – with a specific focus on supporting moms so they can support themselves and their daughters – to value themselves, tune into their intuition, and nourish their bodies, their minds and their spirits. Karen works from a “psychology of eating” perspective and combines her understanding of emotional issues with her nutrition knowledge to help clients make real, long-lasting changes in their lives.

Karen Schachter’s Dishing With Your Daughter is written by Karen Schachter. Please note that the information contained here is not intended as medical or psychological advice. Please consult a licensed professional before making any dietary changes. If you have an eating disorder, please seek help from a professional. If you have questions or comments about this article, you may submit them through a comment below, or send them to: