Why self-acceptance is essential for teenage girls.
Part of what I do in my yoga workshops and as a teenage life coach is teaching self-acceptance to teenage girls. I help preteens and teens understand who they are and how they relate to the world around them. Unlike self-esteem, which relates to how valuable and worthwhile we see ourselves, self-acceptance refers to the ability to honor and embrace all sides of ourselves – including those that are less than perfect.
It is especially important for a teenage girl to learn and practice self-acceptance because, as she develops her values, she may try on many different personalities. She will experience many different types of people – from friends to teachers, to coaches, to parents. She will (no matter how much you try to shield her) face a slew of conflicting messages from the media about how to behave, how to look, what to buy, and even what to dream. Social interaction, combined with media pollution, sends subtle, yet constant messages to girls that they are good enough when certain standards are met.
I’ve seen it so many times in girls as young as seven “If I wear x brand of jeans, the popular girls will like me.” or “Boys only talk to girls who look like x.” or “I need to buy x to have beautiful hair, skin, nails, body.” The list can go on…
Ways to help your teenage daughter achieve self-acceptance
One of the best things that help us embrace ourselves is yoga. Yoga teaches self-acceptance in a number of ways. Now, during the summer break, it is a great time to start practicing yoga with your daughter if you haven’t done so.
First, it is non-competitive. Yoga is not about being the best or winning. In fact, there really is no end to learning or achieving in yoga. Competition often promotes comparisons, which fuel self-judgment and self-criticism in teenage girls.
Second, yoga encourages us to be compassionate – not only to ourselves but also to each other and our environment. Through the physical practice of yoga, we learn that every day, our bodies are different. Some days it’s easier to balance than others, some days your body might feel tight, others it’s more fluid. Sometimes it’s easier to take a full belly breath, other days, the breath is shallow and strained. Acknowledgment that our bodies are different every day and respond to our circumstances, encourages understanding and self-acceptance.
What you as a parent can do every day:
We are able to accept ourselves only to the degree to which we feel accepted by our parents.
- Help your teen daughter stay focused on her goals. Support and encouragement are essential in shaping decision-making skills and keeping teenagers on track.
- Involve your teenage girl in the decision-making process. Instead of being quick to judge a decision as right or wrong, discuss the decision-making process with her. Look at all sides of an issue and LISTEN to your teenage daughter’s perspective.
- Listen to and respect the daily challenges your teen daughter faces. Do not minimize their trials and tribulations but instead give them an opportunity to talk about issues and encourage them to think deeply about the actions they took. Ask thoughtful questions.