Activities That Build Female Self Esteem
Despite the gains made in women’s equality legally, low self-esteem keeps some women from taking advantage of those opportunities. Low self-esteem comes early; by the time they reach their early teens, some girls begin to lose confidence. They succumb to the opinions of others, media and cultural messages about how girls should look and act and the desire to please.
Suddenly, who they are is no longer acceptable. Low self-esteem in girls results in eating disorders, depression and even unwanted pregnancy. For girls to have strong self-esteem, they need not only to learn to be authentic, but also that their authentic self is valued.
Research shows that sports can enhance girls’ self-esteem in numerous ways. Through athletics, girls develop and gain confidence in their abilities, learn how to handle conflict and form positive relationships with other girls. In addition, they realize they can depend on themselves as well as others – and that both are important.
Athletics also offers girls an opportunity to be aggressive, and to be rewarded for their aggression. This is one of the few areas in which females are validated for that part of their personalities. Finally, through athletics, girls can learn to appreciate their bodies rather than rely on unrealistic media images of beauty.
Journal writing can help girls increase their self-esteem through honest self-expression. Freestyle journal writing allows girls to be honest about their feelings, especially anger, without fear of censure. Another approach is to use guided journal writing. Fill-in-the-blank journals provide topics that help girls understand themselves and recognize their abilities.
They write about their feelings, achievements and positive traits, which enables them to acknowledge their accomplishments and capabilities. Girls can also write a daily “success log,” in which they list their large and small accomplishments every day. Success logs reinforce girls’ feelings of competence as well as bolster courage when they are tackling new challenges.
Studies have shown that all-female organizations help girls develop self-confidence. First, the girls feel a sense of belonging, which enhances their comfort level. As a result, it is easier for them to try new things. Furthermore, when girls don’t have to worry about outshining or impressing boys, they are more likely to be authentic.
They speak up, express their opinions and feelings, take risks, participate in decision-making and accept leadership roles. Girls learn not only that they are acceptable just as they are, but also that they are capable and that their ideas have merit. Finally, female organizations provide positive role models with whom the girls can identify and emulate.
Volunteering is an excellent way to raise girls’ self-esteem. By helping others, girls see that they have something to offer, which is particularly important for those with low opinions of themselves. Volunteering also helps girls focus on others instead of themselves. Interestingly, this can help girls develop new perspectives on what is important and what type of person they want to be.
In addition, through volunteering, girls learn new skills and increase their success in diverse roles and settings, all of which increases self-esteem. Finally, for girls, as with others, volunteering helps them feel good about themselves. They know they are making a difference in the world.
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