38% of girls ages 8 to 12 told us they’re jealous of the way other girls look.
Here are tips for helping your tween daughter feel good about the way she looks.
In a tween girl's world, looks are vitally important—a fact that will become abundantly clear to you when a big pimple pops up the night before her school pictures, or when she begs you for her first pair of designer jeans. You may be tempted to tell your daughter that looks aren't everything—that it's her talent, hard work, and unique personality traits that will help her get ahead in the world, not perfect skin or a perfect wardrobe. But you may have trouble convincing her. Like it or not, looking cute and having the "right" clothes are huge in your daughter's world. In fact, nearly half of all tween girls surveyed by Discovery Girls magazine said they'd had a classmate or friend make a mean comment about their looks.
Since tween girls do judge themselves (and each other) on their looks, it's a good idea to boost your tween daughter's self-esteem by showing her how to put her best foot forward. The good news is, you can do it without encouraging her to obsess about her looks—or spending a fortune.
The following tips will create opportunities for you to bond with your tween daughter while you manage the messages she receives about beauty. Here are some things you can do to help your daughter feel pretty and raise her self-esteem without encouraging her to become too consumed with her looks.
1. Talk about beauty. The next time you notice your daughter trying on every outfit in her closet, studying her features in the mirror, or spending way too much time styling her hair, it could be an opportunity to talk to her about beauty. Ask her why it's so important to her to look a certain way. Is there something about her appearance she feels self-conscious about? Just knowing what you daughter may be thinking or feeling about the way she looks can help you address any issues and open the dialogue so she knows she can talk to you when new issues arise.
2. Help her to find her a unique look. For most people it's not possible to go buy new clothes every time there is a new trend. Instead, occasionally help your daughter go through her closet, and teach her to mix and match her outfits so she creates a look that she feels good about. (It might also be a fun bonding activity to go through your closet together to find outfits for you, too!) When you do take your daughter shopping, encourage her to buy classic pieces she will be able to wear in a multitude of different ways.
3. Discuss "age-appropriate" style with your tween daughter. Girls who dress too revealing or wear too much makeup for their age can give the wrong impression to peers and teachers. Having a discussion with your daughter early on about the importance of dressing in age-appropriate styles could save both of you a lot of trouble when she reaches her teen years. When you see your daughter wear something you think makes her look older than she is, make sure you explain why you object to the outfit and suggest ways she could modify it to make it age-appropriate. That way, she'll know where the boundaries are and understand why they're there. While she might grumble about it, she'll appreciate that you want to help her project an appropriate message with her clothing.
4. Stress cleanliness and hygiene. You probably taught your daughter to bathe and brush her teeh years ago, but as she becomes a tween, personal hygiene is even more important. As girls approach adolescence, the changes they'll be going through in the next few years make good hygiene a necessity. Make sure she knows how often she should shower, wash and condition her hair, and use deodorant; how to take care of her nails; and how to deal with things like foot odor. Of course, it's also important to take your daughter to her regular dental checkups and teach her to care for her teeth. Developing these habits are crucial as she grows up and can also help in raising self-esteem now—especially if you let her take on the responsibility herself.
5. Help her create a skin care routine. Tween girls' changing hormones have an effect on their skin—and it concerns them. According to a recent survey by Discovery Girls magazine, for 35 percent of girls, their biggest worry about their looks is pimples, acne, or other skin problems. Teach your daughter to take care of her skin now, so when she becomes a teenager she'll already be in the habit. If washing her face twice a day and using over-the-counter acne treatments doesn't help with her acne, consider taking her to a dermatologist. Also, always encourage your daughter to wear sunscreen, SPF 30 or higher, when she's going to be outdoors.
6. Compliment her the right way. Although you don't want to talk to her about her looks all the time, a parent's silence about her daughter's appearance also says a lot. It can make her feel bad or guilty for having an interest in her looks, even though her interest is a normal part of her development. When you compliment your daughter, compliment her on specific things she has done so that she begins to feel a sense of control over her appearance. For example, instead of just saying, "Your hair is so pretty," you might say, "I like the way you braided your hair—it looks so pretty like that." Instead of simply telling her she looks nice, you might say, "I like the way you matched your scarf to the stripe in your skirt." She'll not only feel good about looking good, but she'll also get the sense that she is capable, which will raise her self-esteem.
The tween years can be an especially awkward for girls. As your daughter begins the transition from little girl to teenager, applying these simple tips can help her feel more confident about her appearance. Of course, your main focus as a parent is raising a well-adjusted girl who knows that her looks make up only a small part of who she is. How you approach the subject of beauty can be an important factor in raising self-esteem and set her up for success in everything she does.
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