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Teaching Self Esteem & About Friendship to Our Girls

Updated on August 14, 2012

Growing Friends - A Girl Thing

Forming good friendships in terms of building self-esteem in young, preteen, and teen-aged girls is vital to their happiness and success in life.

Yet, often we fail our girls, by not teaching them about:

  • How to be a friend
  • Why a friendship is a two-way street
  • Equality in friendship
  • What makes a good friendship
  • How to make a friendship last

As parents and grandparents it is vital to teach our girls starting at a young age, the importance of being a good friend and maintaining healthy friendships.

It begins at an early age, in teaching our girls about self esteem and giving them tools to have self confidence.

Self Esteem Girls

True and Lasting Friendships

Best Friends
Best Friends | Source

How to Be A True Friend

How to be a true friend, is something that we need to start teaching our girls at an early age, the younger the better. True friendship has a foundation in respect. It's important to teach our girls to:

  • Respect their friends, by not talking behind their backs even when they are angry;
  • Believe that their friend's intentions are always for the best;
  • Respect their friend enough to accept an apology for a wrong;
  • Respect their friend even when they are feeling jealous; and finally
  • Respect themselves.

Friendship | Source

Why Friendship Is a Two-Way Street

Additionally, girls need to see friendship as a two-way street and learn the keys to how to be a good friend:

Those keys include:

  • Friends need to be sensitive to what their friends are experiencing and going through;
  • Friends require time, time doing things, even if there is nothing to do;
  • Knowing a true friendship involves both parties being "themselves" at all times (not pretending to be someone they aren't or like something they don't just to preserve the friendship)

The Best Friend

Having a best friend is something that just about everyone -- girl, boy, man or woman -- desires. For girls, it's often vital to their self esteem, especially as they enter preteen and teen years. The square dance of life, best friends, is about not making that exclusive friendship so exclusive that it is the one and only friendship in a girl's life. That isn't healthy, that's dependency. If the friendship is based on dependency, and something happens to that friend or that friendship -- it can be devastating and leave a lifelong hurt.

Like an old fashioned square dance, best friends can not always feel as close one day to the next. Girls need to know this is a normal phenomenon. That's why they should be encouraged to not only have a "best friend" but several "best friends" -- so that they don't lose themselves, should the friendship end or fade.

One of the first things our girls need to know, is that best friends grow from their acquaintances and casual friends. Secondly, girls need to know that even best friends can change and that the friendship will change because of that fact.

Friendship and laughter go hand-in-hand
Friendship and laughter go hand-in-hand | Source

Mutual Respect and Equity in Friendship

Mutual respect and equity in friendship takes patience and nurturing. Teach our girls that respect is something they must demand in friendships and give freely in friendship.

Jealousy In Friendship

Jealousy has no place in friendship and it's important to teach that to our girls. They need to know that this one thing that can poison and ruin a friendship. Our daughters and granddaughters, need to know that there will always be someone who has more than they do. Just like, there will always be other girls who has less than them. It goes back to teaching our children (boys and girls) the differences between needs and wants.

Overcoming jealousy is a difficult thing to teach and sometimes model for girls. Jealousy is sometimes rooted in poor self-esteem. Jealousy is also rooted in fears, both rational and irrational. it's one of life's most powerful emotions and helping our girls learn to fight this emotional demon can be one of the most challenging we may face when it comes to friendships with other girls.

The Ingredients of a Good Friendship

Just like baking a cake, the ingredients of a good friendship are key to a lasting friendship.


  • Being someone who is there for both the good times and bad
  • Being someone you can trust
  • Being someone who won't judge you and accepts you for who you really are
  • Being someone who won't deliberately hurt you
  • Being someone who always tells you the truth
  • Being someone who will listen when you need them to
  • Being someone who will not betray you
  • Being someone who is not an on-again/off-again friend

The Pressure About Looks On Girls

Comfort from bullying found in an inter-species friendship
Comfort from bullying found in an inter-species friendship | Source


Sadly, bullies and bullying are making headlines across our nation. Let's take a look at why girl's in particular, are given to this behavior:

  • Attention seeking
  • To gain respect of peers (albeit false)
  • To gain popularity among peers
  • To make themselves feel superior
  • To deal with their own feelings of jealousy
  • To deal with their own lack of self esteem
  • Because their friends are also bullying

It's important to make our daughters and granddaughters understand that bullying is cruelty, teasing, hitting, and worse. It may surprise them to know that bullying also involves:

  • Gossiping
  • Name calling
  • Telling lies about someone
  • Spreading rumors
  • Excluding someone
  • Picking on someone for being different than them or their friends
  • Text-messaging mean or unkind words
  • Internet and phone calls of an unkind nature

The Importance of Teaching Girls - To Try New Things

Key to self esteem, is the learning process that occurs when girls try new things. If a your girl fears failure, or worries about looking foolish, or is constantly always trying to please others -- she may shy away from trying new things.

Learning new things is something that occurs in spurts, and one way to inspire this confidence builder is to find new experiences for our daughters that help them expand their self-imposed limits.

One of the ways you can encourage her to do this -- is to create a safe environment in which to try new things. Above all don't let her give up!

The Importance of Keeping Her Secrets

When you keep your girls secrets, you are saying indirectly that you respect her decisions and confidence. It is important to keep her secrets and confidences just as though it were something a treasured friend shared with you.

By showing her you respect her, you are showing her that she is worthy of such respect. One way to help your girls is to have a casual discussion about secrets and what they are. Talk about if keeping secrets is good or bad?

The Importance of Teaching the Difference between Cliques and a Group of Friends

One of the most important insights you can give your daughter is how to know the difference between being in a clique or being with a group of friends.

Group friendships are important and good, while cliques are neither normal or healthy. It's hard to convey to young girls that subtle difference, when wanting to belong and fit in are so important to their self esteem.

Being a friend, within a group of friends can:

  • Help your daughter develop relationship skills
  • Give support
  • Get support
  • Share ideas and accomplishments
  • Share common interests
  • Just be fun

However, unhealthy group friendships, that go out of their way to not include anyone new, or anyone who is not a part of the "group" is clearly a clique.

Girls within these cliques can often be mean, purposely hurt others, exclude other girls, and sometimes even victimize or bully both girls outside the clique and the weaker members inside the clique.

Help your girls by:

  • Teaching them to respect themselves
  • Keeping them involved in activities and interests that make them feel good about themselves
  • Encouraging them to always be open to new friendships
  • Speaking up and speaking out. if one of their friends is treating another person wrong
  • Teaching them to think for themselves
  • Being the kind of friend that they would like their friends to be for them


Teach By Example The Power of Words

Words are powerful and with our girls they are explosively powerful. Hurtful words can cut wounds that last a life-time. Girls especially learn early that words are how they judge themselves.

They decide their self-image by what others say to them and about them.

Teach your girls that we say, and how we say it, can do either harm or good. Choose your words carefully, and teach your daughters to choose their own words carefully.

The Importance of Teaching Without Criticism

Finally, it's easy, especially in those challenging pre-teen and teen years to get stuck in the mode of noticing the mistakes and not so nice little habits our girls have. Some parents can't seem to help themselves and nag, complain, correct, demand, etc.

It is important to teach without criticism using that same positive reinforcement we used when our children were very little.

One way of teaching without criticism is to ignore everything your daughter does that drives you crazy (within reason). Look for ways to catch her doing something right and forget that she forgot her gym uniform at school, didn't bring home her math book, left a mess in the kitchen -- and focus on what she did right today -- and casually compliment her on them as they occur.

Another way to teach without criticism is to watch your wording. Just eliminating the one word "don't" and replacing that with "remember to" can create a small miracle in a short time. So instead of saying,

"Don't forget to do bring home your study guide for tomorrow's test" -- try saying, "Remember to bring home your study guide for tomorrow's test." A good life and good relationships with our daughters often is in the details.

Self Esteem Quotes


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    • profile image


      4 years ago

      I have a 10 year old daughter and she seems to be doing fine in school but she is having trouble fitting in with the neighborhood kids. There's a group of these kids-a mixture of both male and female. I feel the biggest issue is with the parents of these children. My husband and I are older, we don't drink and these parents and the kids took issue with the fact that we were homeschooling so to say the least, we don't fit in with the parents. They are also social drinkers and they like to have there get togethers and of course my husband and I are not invited. We did go over and chit chat with them and accepted a glass of wine or beer when they offered but as hard as we tried it just didn't work. We are trying to move to a different part of the neighborhood where there are children her age and older parents and grandparents our age. But we have to make do until we can make that move. We have her involved in horseback riding and softball to keep her self esteem up and to keep her busy.

      I want to teach her to express her feelings without lashing out at her family members. I tend to get really upset with her when she is ugly with me. And the only time she's like that is when she gets picked on.

      I really need help,


    • mandymoreno81 profile image


      7 years ago

      This goes both ways for guys and girls, but I find that girls are more inclined to talk badly about their friends and to just be snide. A lot of times, girls with low self-esteem will be this type of person and it's important for girls to learn the meaning of friendship and trust.

    • Jerilee Wei profile imageAUTHOR

      Jerilee Wei 

      7 years ago from United States

      Thanks Jare01! Good question wish I had some good answers for this form of bullying which is a huge problem. My own granddaughter has been overwhelmed repeatedly by a similar situation with a girl who was once a friend, a child who is clearly mentally off balance. We've tried having a sit down with the girl's mother, going to the school, etc. Nothing has worked short of a restraining order which may be a possibility if this continues. My granddaughter is extremely popular and exceptionally pretty and unfortunately this brings out the worst in some other girls.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      My 14 yr old daughter is being bothered by a girl daily. They were friends for awhile in middle school. She has no boundaries and very low self-esteme. It's not overt bullying but does obvious things like stares at my daughter for long periods of time across the lunchroom, loudly approaches her friends and interrupts when she's talking with them and invites my daughters boyfriend over to her house. What does my daughter need to do to establish boundaries so this girl does not continue or get worse?

    • Jerilee Wei profile imageAUTHOR

      Jerilee Wei 

      7 years ago from United States

      Thanks Meredith Wills! Sounds interesting.

    • profile image

      Meredith Wills 

      7 years ago

      One unique program is "Girls On The Run". In our town of 9000 it is sponsored by our local Community Recreation Council with the help of the YWCA which is in a larger city 15 miles from us. Great program.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Hello, I live in a small community that has absolutely nothing to offer the young kids. I am 23 and I am an education major. I want to start an inspiration group for girls of all ages. I am not sure of how to get started and how the community will react to it. I want to give to my community and make a difference. This article really inspires me to achieve my goal. Do you have any advice for me? Thanks

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      You had great info about relationships. Both our daughters are very different. 6 years between them and two brothers. It is hard work developing relationships that last. Being a teenager is very difficult. Sometimes it is my daughter's friends that cause a lot of her drama and it is important for us to teach her how to deal with people who hurt your feelings even if it wasn't intentionally. She is very unique in dress, hair, books, music and she loves to play xbox. I feel that being a teenager is precarious and hopefully we have shown her to be herself and love herself. To ask questions about life and have faith in something. We are working on self esteem issues so thanks for the advice.

    • Jerilee Wei profile imageAUTHOR

      Jerilee Wei 

      8 years ago from United States

      Thanks nikitha p!

    • nikitha p profile image

      nikitha p 

      8 years ago from India

      Very interesting hub. Thanks for sharing this.

    • Jerilee Wei profile imageAUTHOR

      Jerilee Wei 

      9 years ago from United States

      Thanks marieryan. You are right, it's never too late and then too there are grandchildren, etc.

    • marieryan profile image

      Marie Ryan 

      9 years ago from Andalusia, Spain

      Jerilee! I wish I had joined Hubpages sooner so I could have read this while my two girls were going through their 'formative' years!

      Inotice the word 'respect' is recurrent throughout your article. I agree that this must be the basis for friendship in all its forms,at all ages.

      I'm a great believer in 'It's never too late' I'm sure all the great advice will come in handy....even for me...

    • Jerilee Wei profile imageAUTHOR

      Jerilee Wei 

      10 years ago from United States

      Our eleven year old granddaughter who lives with us, is just entering middle school and this prompted us to start talking about how to lessen the drama and trauma of the upcoming teen years. Having a girl, talking to her about what makes a good friendship, etc. is so important.

    • hot dorkage profile image

      hot dorkage 

      10 years ago from Oregon, USA

      My 15 year old is starting to reflect on friendships instead of just being ruled by it. Good for her. and good points.

    • Jerilee Wei profile imageAUTHOR

      Jerilee Wei 

      10 years ago from United States

      Certainly, I agree. However, it is key to show our girls that jealousy being the powerful emotion that it is, needs to be kept in perspective and seen for what it is. Very normal feeling. I'm going to expand this hub, I just kind of got some writer's block after I started it.

    • Aya Katz profile image

      Aya Katz 

      10 years ago from The Ozarks

      Jerilee: Great hub!

      Friendship is so important.

      However, I disagree about jealousy. I think jealousy is not a bad emotion, always to be rooted out and eradicated. Jealousy often stems from the loss of a valuable relationship or from realistic fears that a loss may be forthcoming.

      If two girls are best friends, and then when a new girl moves into the neighborhood, one of the best friends chooses the new girl as her new best friend, the old best friend is going to be jealous. That's perfectly normal, and nothing to be ashamed of. If we want to promote that girl's self-esteem, we first of all have to acknowledge that a real loss has occurred. If we don't, then she might pretend not be jealous, but the jealousy will still be there, eating at her.

      The fact of the matter is that while we don't own our friends, and we can't force them into exclusive relationships, a friendship is a valuable commodity, and when we lose it, it's all right to mourn.

      People are not interchangeable. Telling your daughter that she can always make new friends is okay. But telling her that the new friends can replace the old is counterproductive. Each friendship is unique.


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