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Building Confidence and Self-Esteem in Preteen and Teen Girls: 5 Empowering Strategies

On this #middleschoolMondayz, in recognition of Women's History Month, let's discuss five ways you can invest in your preteen or teen daughter, student, or a middle school girl in your sphere of influence.

Fostering good confidence and self-esteem in teen and preteen girls is critical for their overall health and development. Speaking of #WHM, after all, girls who are empowered and well-equipped academically, socially, and emotionally will mature into historic women! Below are five strategies to help them get started.

Black Girl College Prep: Positive self-esteem strategies

Encourage self-expression

Did you know that every preteen/teen has something unique about them, and they typically have something to say? Even if they're not much of a talker, believe me, they have an opinion.

Most girls at this age express themselves via their clothing, music, slang, and even the videos they watch. As educators, parents, aunts, and role models, it is important that we allow space for girls to express themselves creatively and authentically. Whether it's through art, music, writing, or other hobbies, encourage them to explore their interests and passions without judgment or trying to manipulate them into what you like or want them to be.

And, yes...there is a way to encourage self-expression respectfully while guiding them, establishing principles and boundaries for reverent respect of your authority or position in their life. Celebrating their unique abilities and qualities helps them develop a sense of pride in who they were created to be.

Promote positive body image

Leading by example is one of the most powerful strategies to encourage and promote positive body image. If you find yourself criticizing your own body or criticizing others around your preteen or teenager, she will most likely struggle to embrace her own body. The best teacher is one who leads by example. Help girls develop a healthy relationship with their bodies by encouraging body positivity and self-acceptance. You can compliment them intentionally in areas where you suspect insecurities. Encourage them to affirm themselves and to concentrate on their bodies' abilities rather than their appearance. Instead of making negative remarks regarding looks, highlight the significance of being healthy, strong, and confident in their own skin. Also, remind them that God didn't make mistakes when he created them- every dimple, curve, complexion, and hair texture was on purpose.

Provide opportunities for success

There is nothing like seeing or hearing your daughter, student, niece, or mentee gain confidence after succeeding in something. You're also familiar with that experience and know what it's like—a great headspace to be in.

We can boost our girls's self-esteem by offering opportunities to set goals, take on challenges, and succeed. Whether it's through academics, sports, leadership roles, or extracurricular activities, support them in pursuing their interests and aspirations. Encourage them along the way and introduce them to new avenues. Be sure to intentionally celebrate their accomplishments, no matter how big or small, and help them do the same, building confidence through competence. 

Foster positive relationships 

A girl's most essential relationship is with herself. How she thinks about herself and sees herself will influence how she shows up in the world. The next important relationship will be with her community of friends, peers, and supporters.

Having a community at this age is critical for coping, self-esteem, intervention, and achievement. So, encourage her to build meaningful relationships with herself, her classmates, mentors, and role models who inspire and motivate her. Help her develop strong communication skills, empathy, and assertiveness so she can navigate social situations and establish reasonable boundaries.

Encourage her to give and serve in her relationships, to avoid phony and transactional ones, and to surround herself with people who accept, support, and appreciate her for who she is. 

Finally, teaching healthy coping skills is suuuuper important these days. Have you also noticed an uptick in the lack of resilience among Gen-Z students? I mean, it's incredible how easily many kids fold like a lawn chair under pressure and how they avoid challenges.

As influencers, parents, and educators, we must revive the art of grit in this younger generation. Quitting something because "it's too hard or they no longer feel like it" should not be an option. When we allow this, we only set the next generation up for failure by permitting them to give up on their commitments based on how they feel. 

And when we see behaviors connected to erratic emotions stemming from their disdain, apathy, and failure going unchecked, it only exacerbates this problem. This is why teaching our daughters appropriate coping skills is essential for managing stress, overcoming challenges, and recovering from failures and disappointments. 

Teaching positive coping skills will also help to build resilience. We can teach them self-care and coping practices, including mindfulness, deep breathing, writing, expressing or exploring their emotions, cooling down, and relaxing.

It's our responsibility to teach them the practice of self-compassion, positive self-talk, empathy, and grace toward others, as well as remind them that it is OK to ask for help when needed. We've got to honestly let them know that just because they fall or because life is hard doesn't mean they can act out or stay down after a fall, but that they must get back up.

By implementing these strategies, we can empower preteen and teen girls to develop a strong sense of confidence, self-esteem, emotional intelligence, and resilience that will serve them well for the rest of their lives.

Let's support and celebrate the incredible potential of every girl and help them flourish in a world where they feel valued, respected, and capable of reaching their dreams. 

Let me know what strategies you're using in the comments below.


Coach Rahk


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