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Self-esteem is the overall assessment, on one’s own self-worth. However, several variables assist in shaping our self-esteem. Therefore, although the keyword is self, external forces negatively or positively influence our self-worth.

According to NYU Langone Medical Center, between 5th and 9th grade, gifted young girls perceive their intellectual abilities as not sexy enough. Therefore, they do everything to downplay their intelligence. By the time these young girls become 15, they become twice as likely as their male counterparts to face depression.

From a young age, magazines, movies and all other media formats, depict unrealistic and over sexualized images of women. As a young girl, when you witness this often enough, you begin to connect this to the ideal portrayal of women.

Sexualization is the concept of equating your value, with that of sexual appeal or sexual behavior, to the exclusion of other characteristics. In other words, your self-worth comes directly through physical attractiveness.

To this young girl, appearing attractive is a feat that never becomes satisfied. Even in a state of physical perfection, she will find something wrong with her appearance. This defective thought process originates from a young age and simply evolves over the years.

However, knowing there is a problem and accepting that the problem is real—those are just the first steps towards recovery. We need to understand how to fix the problem.

Even with the world outside of your home playing a big role in shaping your child’s opinion, your position as guardian is still vital. With young girls, a great way to influence her self-esteem for the better is through encouragement.

    • The first step for a guardian is to understand one thing: a young mind learns, by first mimicking whatever they see and hear. If you reference negative comments about your body, your child will begin doing the same with theirs. Soon, they will become more apparent of flaws that never existed.
    • The second step is applying focus to everything about your child, not just her physical appearance but accomplishments as well. In other words, it is okay to let your daughter know you love her fiery red curly hair, because in the midst of a classroom where she is the only red-haired child, she can feel ostracized. The idea is to build confidence in areas where others may allow them to feel insecure.Nevertheless, apart from the physical, encourage her academic and common sense abilities. I am a bit biased, but I would focus more attention on her academic/common sense abilities. We have become a nation uplifting physical beauty, completely shunning intellectual beauty among women.
    • Help your daughter understand make-up and things of that nature are only accessories. They are not necessary in making her beautiful.
    • Maintain open dialogue and allow her to feel comfortable discussing her thoughts, without you shunning her point of view.
    • Believe in their success, as much as you do their failures. When we only talk about success, a child becomes incapable in understanding how to deal with failures. Instead, allow them to become fully aware that in the midst of failure, there is always a lesson we can learn.
    • Love them and do so unconditionally. Do not allow your child to believe they have to look a certain way or do something, in order for you to love them.
    • Remain actively involved in her life. Being present isn’t enough. A young girl needs both mom and dad, but this area is severely important for a dad. You help set the tone for her self-esteem. In fact, according to NYU Langone Medical Center, with his active involvement, they attend college more often and are more ambitious, more successful in school, more likely to attain careers of their own, less dependent, more self-protective, and less likely to date an abusive man.
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