Raising a Teenage Girl with High Self-Esteem

Every day, teenage girls are bombarded by messages from peers and the media telling them they’re not good enough. Without a strong sense of self, teenage girls can find themselves struggling in school, abusing drugs or alcohol to numb negative feelings, cutting, bullying, developing eating disorders because of poor body image, trying to fit into a negative peer group, becoming sexually active too early and making poor decisions even when she knows better.

Mother and Daughters

In order to make healthy choices, teenage girls need a strong foundation. They need to know who they are and what they stand for and have the confidence to believe they can accomplish anything they set out to do.

Signs of Low Self-Esteem

Does your daughter have low self-esteem? An adolescent’s demeanor and patterns of behavior can be strong indicators of how they feel about themselves. Here are a few signs of low self-esteem:

  • Struggling to make eye contact or engage in conversation
  • Complaining frequently about her appearance or personality
  • Shying away from challenges and taking calculated risks for fear of failure
  • Withdrawing from friends or family because she doesn’t feel good about herself or her ability to interact with others
  • Indecisiveness, or relying on others to make her decisions for her
  • Being easily influenced by her peers, or changing her opinions, appearance and values to match those of her friends
  • Spending more time on Facebook or other social networking sites than pursuing her own interests or hobbies
  • Blaming others for her problems or disappointments
  • Worrying constantly about the past or obsessing over the future
  • Having difficulty trusting other people
  • Basing how she feels about herself on the acceptance of others

Girls who appear overly confident (for example, talking about how much they love themselves or how good they are at certain things) may also be suffering from low self-esteem. Rather than appearing down on themselves, they try to mask their insecurities by acting overly secure. Even young girls with an impressive list of achievements may have a negative self-image; instead of giving up, these girls strive to earn the acceptance of others by being "the best" at a given task.

Read our parenting tips on how to support your teenage daughter >>

How to Curb Your Teens’ Use of Marijuana

Despite reports that teen marijuana use has declined in recent years, it is actually at the same level as it was in 2004, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. With nearly 33 percent of 12th graders, 27 percent of 10th graders and 12 percent of 8th graders using the drug, that means there’s still a good chance that your teens will use marijuana at some point during high school.

But instead of sitting idly by and watching your teens experiment with the drug, you can take a proactive approach to help reduce the chance that your teens will use marijuana. A study by researchers at Claremont Graduate University in California found that teens who believed their parents were monitoring them were much less likely to use marijuana than those who didn’t.

"The interesting thing is this has to do with kids’ perception of parental monitoring, not necessarily what their parents are actually doing," lead researcher William Crano, a professor of psychology at Claremont Graduate University, said in an article on HealthDayNews.com. "If your kids think that you know what they are doing, and where they’re at, and who they’re with, and what they are doing when they are not in your sight, that has a big impact on the kind of trouble they are going to get into."

Read about some things you can do to lessen the chances of your teens using marijuana >>

Should I Be Concerned about My Child’s Weight?

There’s as much concern today about childhood eating disorders as there is about childhood obesity. The mixed messages can be confusing: When should you begin to worry about your child’s weight? How much should she eat? Or exercise? How much weight can he gain before you should be concerned?

These are all legitimate questions. But the answers aren’t always as straightforward.

Very young children may carry extra weight, but most of them will grow into it. Their weight will stay the same as they get taller. Compare your children’s height percentage with their weight percentage. If your children are in the 80th percentile for both height and weight, they’re fine — even if you think they seem a little overweight.

The other thing to consider with young children is their level of activity. If your children are a little chubby but also very active, you needn’t worry. If, however, your children are fairly inactive (they prefer watching TV to playing outside), you should try and find creative ways to get them moving. Play hide-and-seek, toss a ball around outside or simply go for a walk.

If your child is older, pre-teen or teen-aged, excess weight is more of an issue. Though they’re still not done growing, they won’t have the kinds of growth spurts they had when they were younger.

When should you be concerned? Continue reading to find out >>