Navigating the teen years can be a confusing and painful time. As your daughter grows and discovers more about who she is, her relationships will change along with her hopes for the future. For teenage girls, these years can be overwhelmed by gossip, heartache and betrayal. However, amazing experiences of growth can be found, too, and friendships can be forged that will last a lifetime.
Choose Friends Wisely
A 2011 study published in the "Journal of Early Adolescence" showed that a student’s three best friends can have an effect on her behavior and grades. Teach your daughter to surround herself with positive people who will help her to live life in a more positive manner. Instruct her to pay attention to how her friends treat others and her. If they are prone to gossip and cattiness, or any other behaviors that make her uncomfortable, it might be time to look for new friends.
Treat Yourself Well
In 2008, psychologist Ann Kearney-Cook collaborated with Dove Skin Care on a campaign to study self-esteem. The report found that 62 percent of all girls deal with insecurity, and 75 percent of those with low self-esteem take part in negative activities such as cutting or disordered eating. Rising above the “I’m not good enough” thinking takes work. Your daughter should focus on staying active and eating right as a means of treating her body well and taking pride in her health. Teach her to recognize her strengths and talents, without getting caught up in trying to compare herself to others.
Talk to a Trusted Adult
Whether it be you, her grandparents, an aunt, or the mother of a friend -- implore your daughter to find an adult she trusts to talk to about the issues she's facing. Ensure that she knows that she does not have to navigate the teen years alone, and talking through her problems with an adult might help put her life in perspective or come up with solutions she would not have thought of on her own.
Think About the Future
Assist your daughter in setting goals and dreams for herself, thinking about the steps she will need to take to attain them. Explain how important it is to consider her hopes for the future in each decision she makes, remembering that some of our choices have long-term consequences. Help her cut out pictures and words that can remind her of those goals and hang them in her room so that she can keep her eye on the prize.
Learn How to Say “No”
The Dove self-esteem campaign found that one in 10 girls struggle with saying “no” to boys who make requests that make them uncomfortable, and girls with low self-esteem are four times more likely to make sexual decisions they will later regret. Learning how to say “no” does not just apply to sex, however, and it is a skill your daughter should begin cultivating now to protect herself in every facet of life. Teach her that she does have a voice, and she is allowed to use it in circumstances that make her uncomfortable.
- WTTW: Lifeline #1: Teens/Twenties
- Better Homes and Gardens: Six Rules for Teen Dating
- Planned Parenthood: Keeping Teens Healthy by Setting Boundaries
- The Journal of Early Adolescence: Middle School Friendships and Academic Achievement in Early Adolescence - A Longitudinal Analysis
- AAUW: Real Girls, Real Pressure: A National Report on the State of Self-Esteem Commissioned - June 2008
- Goodshoot RF/Goodshoot/Getty Images