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Creating Powerful Girls
by Dr. Robyn Silverman
Regular Contributor at (April 12, 2008)
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It’s that time again. The diet commercials are in full force which can only mean two things; bathing suit season is right around the corner and nationwide body image is getting ready to plummet. Many adults worry that between all the talk about buff bodies and diet plans, girls will slip into a self esteem slump. How can we help girls to elevate their self worth without needing to go on and on about loving your body?

Confidence and self worth, both positive and negative, can influence how a person feels, thinks, and acts throughout childhood and adulthood. Those who have strong feelings of confidence and high self worth will feel more positive about themselves, think more positively, and act and behave more positively than those who have low self confidence and low self worth. In addition, girls with strong feelings of confidence and high self worth will like who they see in the mirror each day and know that they are worthy of love.

Girls are looking to the women in their lives to show them the ropes. Whether you are a parent, big sister, teacher, or friend of a girl, you can inspire girls to become confident in themselves by following these tips:

1. Help her to realize her unique gifts:

Everyone is talented or special in some way. While we are not all little Einsteins or mini- Monets, everyone has something to offer. Let her know that you appreciate her gifts. Allow her to show you what she can do—without doing it for her! She will get better with time. Hang up artwork, projects, or awards that exhibit these gifts so that your child knows that you value her special talents. Creating a Wall of Fame will allow her to see all of her accomplishments.

2. Be present:

When a girl is sharing new knowledge or new gifts, pay attention! This is the time to shut off the TV and the cell phone. When you do this, she will know that she is important and worthy of your undivided attention.

3. Don't over-praise:

You can let her know that she is special without over-praising. Not everything she does is worthy of the Wall of Fame. She can’t always be super, perfect and fantastic. When you praise a girl when praise is due, she will know you are being genuine and that she has really done a good job.

4. Be a RAD role model (Reliable, Accountable, Dependable):

While you may not always be available when she needs you, create a pattern of responsiveness and responsibility. Be on time, be reliable, and follow through with what you say you are going to do. When you are a RAD role model, she will know that she can count on you and that she is worthy of your follow through. She will also learn what it means to be a positive role model to others.

5. Praise effort:

It may be easy to focus on a high mark on a paper or a gold medal, but it’s really important to praise effort instead of results. When a girl knows that she has worked hard and that hard work is praised, she will likely keep putting in the effort to make the accomplishment. When we are results driven, failure can stop us in our tracks and make us give up for fear of failing once again.

When we take the time to instill confidence in girls, they become a little bit stronger everyday. Then they can call upon that strength when they are feeling low or bombarded with negative, body-bashing messages. The strength of positive mentors carries on even when you’re not around!

Until next time (and the next 5 tips)!


About the Author

Dr. Robyn J.A. Silverman is a New Jersey-based child and adolescent development specialist and body image expert whose programs and services are used worldwide. She's appeared on the Tyra Banks Show and many national news and talk shows. She is also a success coach for parents and educators, who are looking to achieve their goals, improve their lives or improve the lives of others. She is a writer and professional speaker who presents to PTAs, schools, businesses and organizations that focus on children or families.

Her book on girls and body image, Good Girls Don't Get Fat: How Weight Obsession Is Messing Up Our Girls and How We Can Help Them Thrive Despite It is available from Amazon and other bookstores.

 Interested in doing some coaching with Dr. Robyn or having Dr. Robyn present a seminar at your school or business? Go to for more information.



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Key words: body image, self esteem, dieting, weight, girls, confidence