From a very young age children seek praise. When they are little, a daughter's parents tend to be their first choice to hear those kind, loving, generous, thoughtful positive words they so want to hear. In the absence of a father or mother, your girls may look to a grandparent, carer, older sibling, cousin, teacher, aunt, uncle, family friend, or friend at school or in the neighbourhood.
This typical development cycle teaches children to look for and seek praise from external sources other than themselves. While it is incredibly beneficial to a child's self esteem, wellbeing and self development to receive praise from parents and people of influence in their lives (please keep praising your children!) it is incredibly important to teach your children to praise themselves.
When we learn to compliment ourselves, praise ourselves, and acknowledge ourselves for our achievements, milestones and simply for being the unique and special person we are, we naturally develop resilience skills to build resistant against bullying, hurtful remarks, and being put down by others no matter who it is. We also learn to value ourselves, value what we love, and value what is most important to us.
Here's 3 Ideas to support girls building their self esteem and self worth through self praise.
1. ENCOURAGE SELF PRAISE
A child will often come to a parent or person of influence and ask you what you think of them. It might be an outfit they chose for themselves, a project they completed, a race they ran, a painting they did. Instead of first saying what you think of their work or performance and ultimately telling them what you think of them, turn the question back and ask your daughters what they think. Then, once your daughters have praised themselves, by all means join the praise congregation and praise your girls.
2. PRAISE YOURSELF
If your children see and hear you praising yourself then they will learn to do this too. It could be as simple as sharing an achievement from your work day. It could be saying how much you enjoy eating your own home cooking. It could be how much you love your body when you do yoga, swimming, hiking or walking after dinner each evening. Whatever it is, practise self praise and practise sharing this self praise with your daughters.
3. POSITIVE PRAISE
There can be many factors that start that inner critic dialogue in a young girl's psyche. But once it's there, it keeps perpetuating if we feed those negative and destructive comments. Encourage your daughters to really notice when they are putting themselves down and then replace that negative dialogue with something positive. Even better, if you can get your daughters to say out loud words of positive praise while looking at themselves in the mirror.