Building our tweens self-esteem is one of the many privileges and difficult responsibilities we have as parents or caretakers. There are plenty of outside factors which will impact your child’s view of themselves both in positive and negative ways: peers, friends, tv, magazines, school, church, job, music…. So make sure that you help them at an early age build a firm foundation of who they are. This is important because how we feel about ourselves at times determines how we act.
When I think about the messages that my kids are constantly bombarded with on a daily basis it makes me want to equip myself and my kids with tools on how to deal with those negative influences. There a lot of resources out there to guide us because as the African proverb says
“It takes a village to raise a child.”
I am going to share some tips here and a wonderful resource that I have used time and time again as I have worked with tweens in the school system. Believe it or not, one of my favorite resources come from Dove Self-Esteem program, a Unilevers Sustainable program. Not only does it include environmental well-being, but also addresses health and well-being and enhancing livelihoods. To view more of their products and my shop go here.
I am a counselor and one of things I enjoyed about my job prior to staying home with my little one was having, “Girl Chats” with tweens. We would meet over lunch and discuss various topics, one of the topics that constantly came up was self-esteem. Very few girls used this term but I would say that at least 50% of the situations that were brought up had to do with self-worth and what they believed about themselves.
Here are some of the activities I used that were impactful: (they can be adjusted for individual or big group settings) But before I share about how to help your tween it’s important that we as parents/caretakers pick up a few tips for ourselves.
View the list below and print it out by right clicking on it and copy and paste it to your word document. Put it up somewhere you can see it so you’re reminded to encourage your tween. Above all else, it’s important that we model good self-esteem of ourselves. Our children pick up on little comments you make about your looks, your weight, how you feel and your view on life. Let your kids hear you say, “I look good. I feel beautiful. I feel great.” Take pictures with your kids don’t have 100’s of pictures without you in the picture.
Activity 1. Bombarded
Before hand bring in lots of fashion, girl magazines and lay them out on the table. When the tweens arrive just let them peruse the magazines for at least 10 minutes. If you are worried about the inappropriate content in the magazines another thing I did was covered the walls in the room with pages that I cut out from the magazine and then I let them walk around and look at them. When the 10 minutes are up remove the magazines and ask them, “After flipping through those pages how many of you now want to lose weight, go buy some new clothes, change your hair style, you want to be taller or shorter or you hate what you are wearing….? Discuss. Share that this is what happens when we set our standards based on unrealistic images. Share the Onslaught Dove Video. I didn’t realize this before but Dove is a Unilevers Sustainable Living Program product. Through their initiative they are helping millions of young people improve their self-esteem through educational programs. Think about a person who is your hero? Are they portrayed in unrealistic on the media? Write 3 things that you like about yourself physically and personality/character? If in a group have everyone tape a sheet of paper on their back and then give each person a marker and have them write one thing they like about the person.
Activity 2 – Distorted Views
Every day young people are bombarded with unrealistic, unattainable images and images of beauty that impact their self-esteem. Before you begin download the PowerPoint presentation from Doves Movement for Self-Esteem on Exploring Body Image & Self-Esteem. Start off by sharing the video Fabricating Beauty or Dove Evolution (you can find them on YouTube). Then discuss. How many of you didn’t realize how distorted the images are? How does this make you feel? How we can also have distorted views of ourselves? Find a large pair of glasses and inside the lens cut out small images from fashion magazines. Ask for a volunteer and hand them a mirror and then ask them to put on the glasses. Ask them “Can you see yourself?” They can’t. Share “This is what happens when we are constantly comparing ourselves to others. We not only have a distorted view of ourselves but we can’t see our true selves all we see are the images of those models, celebrities, friends we keep comparing ourselves to. Send them home with an assignment: Ask 3 family members or friends to share one thing they appreciate about them (preferably a mix of both physical and character/personality traits). Write them down and then write how they will focus on believing these things.
Activity 3 – Brick Building
Do you think you are born with a positive self-image? This idea was adapted from an activity I found in the Exploring Body Image & Self Esteem power point (slide 14) by Dove. Prior to meeting on brown or red sheets of paper cut out rectangles to represent bricks. Hand them each 6 bricks. Then ask: How can we build a strong self-image? Think about those things that build your self-image/self-worth? Be as specific as possible: activity, words, people, hobby, actions… Write them down on your brick. The healthy positive things you wrote down are the ones we need to focus on. Now think about the things that break your positive self-image and share aloud. These are things you don’t need to focus on or let them get to you. If it’s an activity then maybe you need to re-evaluate that activity. If it’s a friend maybe you need to have a talk with them about how they are hurting you and if it doesn’t stop you need to re-evaluate your friendship. If it’s words from a teacher, parent, sibling or loved one. Write it down those negative statements you keep replaying and replace them with truth/Bible verses. Burn the negative statements and commit to stopping yourself immediately from going down that path when you begin replaying those statements. Pray that God will help you learn to focus on the truth and not the lies that you have been told or that you believe.
As you may know, low self-esteem doesn’t just plague tween and teenagers but it’s starts when you’re young and it even affects the elderly. What I do to incorporate sustainable living in my house is I focus on truth/fact statements to improve my self-worth. My truth and fact statements are sometimes written out bible verses, thoughts of encouraging words I have had from my husband, my parents and other important people in my life. By replacing those lies and the assumptions with truth I have a better chance of changing my perception of myself when I practice this.
On top of that I try to eat healthy and pamper myself by purchasing products like these: St. Ives facial scrubs are always a part of my bathing routine and Ponds moisturizer is another facial favorite. It’s never been easier to pamper myself. Even though I don’t mind a pedicure every now and then, I seriously, dont’ have time to go to the salon and get a hair treatment or an intense foot massage or skin therapy so this is more then sufficient for me.
I am a member of the Collective Bias® Social Fabric® Community. This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™ and Unilever #CBias #SocialFabric” and it was a privilege to share about their wonderful resources and products that I have used in my seminars and personally in my home. You can find out more about them by visiting Making Life Better Website, Twitter and Facebook .