Skip to content

Raising Her Self-Esteem


How much does your girl like herself? If it’s a lot and her self-esteem is high, she probably feels confident and self-assured, and she knows that she can do most anything! But when her self-esteem is low, she is always finding things wrong with herself, and she’s likely to decide that new things aren’t even worth trying.

Whether you need to raise your girl’s self-esteem or help her maintain the good self-image she already has, Dr. Laurie Zelinger, psychologist and author of A Smart Girl’s Guide: Liking Herself, has these five simple tips:    

Start with Smart Choices

As you give your girl more freedom to do things on her own, she’s learning independence and confidence. Help her understand why you want her to check in often, and ask her to think about how she can make the kinds of choices for herself that you would make for her. Play out a few scenarios—with both good and not-so-good choices—to reinforce your family’s values and rules.


No Name Calling!

You are your daughter’s earliest and greatest mentor, and if she sees or hears you calling yourself “stupid” for a silly mistake or “fat” when looking in the mirror, she learns that bullying herself is an acceptable thing to do. Words can be very hurtful and hard to forget, even when you only say them to yourself. Show her how to use words to build herself up, not tear herself down.


Build Healthy Bodies 

When you’re sick, you know how hard—even impossible!—it is to be your best. You may not be able to avoid getting sick, but being good to your body can help you feel its best. Help your girl develop healthy habits by ensuring she gets enough sleep, eats fresh foods, doesn’t skip meals, and gets plenty of exercise.


Inside and Out

Teach your girl to show pride in herself and her appearance because self-esteem can take a hit when she doesn’t feel or look her best. Talk to your girl about hygiene and encourage her to bathe regularly, brush her teeth at least twice a day, wear clean clothes, and keep her fingernails clean and clipped. For a just-for-fun activity together, try these cute nail art DIYs and stylish hair-dos!


Be Proud

Tell your girl that when she leaves the house, she should walk like a queen wearing a beautiful crown. Remind her to stand tall and let the world see the great person that she is—because she is great!


Adapted from A Smart Girl’s Guide: Liking Herself by Dr. Laurie Zelinger. Illustrations by Jennifer Kalis.
© 2018, 2019 American Girl. All American Girl marks are trademarks of American Girl.

Related Articles