5 Senses

The 5 Senses

Building Self-Confidence in Your Tween Girl Without Them Knowing

Do you struggle to find ways to counteract the negativity that is building in your tween? Do you ask yourself where that carefree child went? Do you start to doubt yourself as parent because a solution seems out of reach?

Let me tell you that as a parent of three children, each with very different personalities, I struggled to find ways to build and keep that self-confidence growing in my own tweens.

Five scary statistics for tween life today:

A young girl with negative comments all around her.
Low self-levels make life difficult for everyone.
  • Over 80% of 10-year-old girls are afraid of being fat.1
  • Girls who had high self-esteem in seventh grade were three times more likely to have remained virgins than were girls with low self-esteem.2
  • A girl’s self-esteem is not really based on how much she weighs. A more accurate statement would be her self-esteem is directly related to how she views her body shape and weight.
  • Over 40% of first, second, and third grade girls want to lose weight.3
  • Girls’ self-esteem peaks when they are 9 years old, then takes a nose dive.4 

So now that I’ve scared you, let me tell you the good news.

It doesn’t have to be that way for your child. Helping her to develop self-worth, self-confidence, self-control, and any other self-word you want to use may be easier than you think. The list below gives you examples of how to use your tween’s senses to build and maintain self-esteem (I bet you thought I ran out of self- words—oh no.) Here we go…

Sense-sational Fun – Sight, Smell, Sound, Taste, Touch

How many of the five senses can you get your tween to use for each activity?

  • Zoo visit, animal shelter visit, animal hospital tour, zookeeper program (tours and visits should be done with your child). Encourage her to try a new program.
  • Craft Fairs / Craft Classes (these are great ways for you and your child to show your creative sides).
  • Attend a recording session (especially if your child is into music, or shows interest or is currently editing personal videos).
  • Tour a TV station together or as a family. Expose her to careers and skills needed to work in this environment.
  • Dance (no, not sending her to dance class) with your child just for fun.
  • Listen and sing songs together that have a positive message. Examples are “Happy” by Pharrell Williams or “I Love You Just the Way You Are” by Billy Joel. Are you getting my drift?
  • Connect with your daughter through pictures (look at them, take them, post them somewhere, etc.)
  • Read a book together. Take advantage of teaching moments by engaging in conversation. Ask open ended questions. Listen to the answers. Do not criticize.
  • Play games or sports together.
  • Travel with your child. It is not necessary to take them to the Taj Mahal to provide a wonderful experience. There are many sights to be seen in your own backyard. If you are able to give your child an experience out of the country, by all means do so—together.
  • Community service projects are a good way to show your child how to give back. It is also a great way to show your child just how fortunate she truly is. Sometimes you can leave the words behind and let the visual be the teacher.
  • Relax together. This may be harder for you than for your child.

The examples above are offered as starting points. Tailor your Sense-sational Fun activities around what your child enjoys. Find a way to do things together. If you haven’t noticed, the common thread in all these activities is really you and your child being active participants.

Why do I need to do everything with my tween? You don’t. Just remember that this time in your child’s life is a transition period. They are struggling just like a butterfly transitioning from its chrysalis. It’s not always pretty. With help from you, your tween will emerge from her transition a strong, self-assured young woman. Armed with your support and the tools she needs as a teen, her journey will be easier and less painful.

Well, once you get through this phase, hold on to your hat. The teen years are next.

Would you like to know what the top wish of teen girls is? Brace yourself. Their top wish is for better communication with their parents. They want more open conversations. They want more frequent conversations.

You have a head start by engaging your tween now. Take advantage of it. You don’t get to relive this time or any other time in their lives.


1Andrist, Linda C. “Media Images, Body Dissatisfaction, and Disordered Eating in Adolescent Women.” MCN: The American Journal of Maternal Child Nursing 28.2 (2003).

2Spencer, J. M., G. D. Zimet, M. C. Aalsma, and D. P. Orr. “Self-Esteem as a Predictor of Initiation of Coitus in Early Adolescents.” Pediatrics 109.4 (2002): 581-84. Print.

3Body Image in the 21st Century.

4Robin F. Goodman on the New York University Child Study Center Web site.

Annie Morecambe

Annie Morecambe

Shine Your Light — Annie M

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