One look at the popular media and you can see why low self-esteem is a problem for many girls. In magazines, movies and television shows, the feminine ideal is tall, gorgeous and razor thin, while real girls come in a variety of looks, shapes and sizes. The trick to building self-esteem is to engage girls in activities that identify--and use--their skills and strong points. The goal is for them to develop confidence and control so they don't need to strive for skin-deep, media-induced goals.
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Girls can improve their self-esteem by taking a good look at their strong points. The Education World website suggests having them make commercials that tout their best qualities as if they were trying to convince an employer to hire them. This lets girls realize the real-world importance of their existing skills, such as creativity, sense of humor, compassion, intelligence or sports ability. Another activity is to ask girls to write down their six most-prominent personality traits on strips of paper and place them in a row. They should remove up to three traits and analyze how that affects who they are. This gives them an appreciation of the what they like about themselves and what they would like to change.
Art projects offer a visual, hands-on way for girls to express their feelings and build self-esteem. The Scholastic website suggests having girls make two collages--one showing people they respect, such as friends, relatives, sports stars and public figures, and the other one featuring magazine photos of models and movie stars. Comparing the collages shows how the real world differs from the world depicted in the media. The Education World website also recommends drawing self-portraits with lines down the middle. Half a girl's face should show how she feels about herself, and the other half how she thinks the world sees her. The result can be a discussion-starter or the topic for a journal entry.
Physical activity--particularly organized sports--can enhance a girl's self-esteem in many ways. Athletic programs help girls feel more in control, more self-confident and less anxious, according to ERIC Counseling and Student Services Clearinghouse. ERIC reports that competitive sports also leads girls to seek leadership positions in other fields. New York University says a girl's sports participation leads to better health, better grades, lower drop-out rates, less stress and greater feelings of strength and competence.
Variety of Experience
Girls can boost their self-esteem by engaging in a wide variety of activities, including nontraditional choices. Girl Scouts recommends creating opportunities based on the girl's interests, whether those interests are in community work, outdoor activity, fashion or art. The Healthy Place website says to offer girls experiences that are often thought of for boys, such as building or computer projects. New York University agrees, suggesting that girls' interests shouldn't be limited by adult perceptions. As girls explore new fields, they increase their feelings of self-esteem, competence and control.