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She's Your Daughter - Make Her Strong

Apr 13, 2008
Growing up is difficult, very difficult. Children are constantly subject to the message that they need to do more, be more, and have more in order to be successful. Media messages teach young girls that their bodies should be unreasonably thin and blemish-free.

In addition to having the perfect body, our girls must excel academically, be socially active, participate in sports, engage in extra-curricular activities and give back to their communities. This constant drive to do more and be more, while doing and being perfect, is enough to make even the most grounded adult feel anxious. The results of a recent study completed at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, are not surprising: one-third of US teens are stressed out on a daily basis, while nearly two-thirds are stressed at least once a week.

Meanwhile, adolescence is a time when bodies and psyches are changing rapidly and dramatically. Hormone levels are fluctuating, girls are developing curves and their sexuality is awakening. They are thinking about college and career, while also maintaining a social life and navigating the complexities of romantic relationships.

In order to help your daughter not only survive but ultimately thrive through her adolescence and into adulthood, you must help her develop a healthy self-esteem, an unshakeable sense of self-worth, and a healthy emotional life. According to best-selling author Daniel Goleman having high emotional intelligence is critical to success.

What makes people excel in life is not so much their IQ but rather their EI. It is the ability of people to master their "inner game", to navigate the complexities of their own emotional life with the natural ups and downs, pains and pleasures, of daily living, that will define the successful from the mediocre.

What does it mean for your child to have a healthy self-esteem and self-worth? No one wants their child to be conceited or self-centered, and a healthy self-esteem doesn't mean that they think they are better than anyone else. Rather, having a healthy self-esteem and self-worth means they know they have intrinsic value, that is not dependent on what they have, how much they accomplish, or what they do.

A healthy emotional life means that your child is able to navigate her own emotional landscape. This means she must be aware of her emotions and be able to either observe them or act on them in a constructive fashion.

This is a huge challenge for many mature adults, much less adolescents. However, if your child learns these skills now, they will serve her throughout her life.

Here are some concrete tips to teach your daughter the skills she needs to survive in today's world:

Encourage Yoga and Meditation

Yoga and meditation are mind-body centering practices that will wield enormous benefits for your child. Yoga can help your daughter relax and reduce her stress. It can also help her be at peace with her adolescent body.

Meditation is a key component of helping your daughter reduce her stress and develop emotional awareness. Meditation teaches her that she can observe her thoughts and emotions without reacting to them. It creates a space where she can notice the arising and subsiding of her emotions.

She will realize that nothing is permanent. This practice will help her learn to take the many challenges that life presents in stride, knowing that nothing is forever. This experiential knowledge will help her navigate the constantly changing sea of adolescence with grace and poise.

Encourage Emotional Awareness and Constructive Communication

Understanding emotions is critical to living a healthy and successful life in this day and age. As a parent, you can set a profound example by modeling emotional intelligence for your child.

Talk about emotions and how important they are in life. Teach your child that experiencing emotion is never a sign of weakness, but rather a sign of strength. Teach her how to express her emotions effectively through conscious communication.

Affirm Her Intrinsic Beauty and Self-Worth

We all receive the message that we are beautiful and valuable if we are beautiful and when we are young, fit and thin. We are worthwhile when we are successful and accomplished. The fact of the matter is we are intrinsically beautiful because we exist; we are worthwhile simply because we are.

As a parent, you knew this the day your child was born. You daughter did not become valuable because of anything; she was valuable just because she was a unique human being.

Teach her how to affirm her self-worth. Tell her regularly how much you value her simply because she exists. Show her how to repeat daily affirmations to herself that focus on her intrinsic value.

Teach Her to See the Intrinsic Beauty and Value in Others

Help your daughter cultivate the art of finding beauty and value in other people. Just as we are trained to look at ourselves with a critical lens, we often look at others with the same critical lens. When we shift our focus, however, to finding the beauty and value in everyone we meet, we realize that there is more beauty and wonder than we ever imagined.

This will re-affirm to your daughter that beauty is more than skin-deep, and value is more than the sum of our accomplishments. Learning to see the inherent goodness in those around her will help her see the inherent goodness within herself.

Help Her Cultivate an Attitude of Gratitude

We are trained to see what we don't like. Women grow up to instantly see what they don't like about their bodies and themselves. It's easy to identify what is lacking from our lives.

With a little practice, however, we can shift our attention to everything that is right with ourselves and with the world. We can focus on what we are grateful for about our bodies. We can focus on what we are grateful for in our lives.

When you teach your daughter to be grateful, you will help her to improve her outlook on life and build a solid foundation for building the future she wants. The simple act of being grateful can transform how she feels about and interacts with herself and the world.

Teach Her to Love Herself, To Be There for Herself

Teach your daughter how to love herself. Teach her how to affirm her own self-worth. When life is difficult and the pain seems so much greater than the pleasure, show her that she can support herself.

She can offer herself appreciation and gratitude, support and encouragement. As a parent you can model these traits to her, but also teach her how to give this to herself. When she learns to stay with herself during life's difficult times, to honor her emotions without reacting compulsively, to appreciate and be grateful for her goodness, she will have the skills she needs to be successful in our ever-challenging world.
About the Author
Sarah Maria is a body-image expert and personal empowerment coach who helps people love their bodies no matter how they look. She leads workshops and works one-on-one in consulting sessions to assist people in overcoming hatred and dissatisfaction with their bodies using holistic healing and spiritual principles.
Get her FREE e-book: "5 Steps to Loving What You See in the Mirror"
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