Teen girls face increasing pressure every day to conform to the "ideal" image of beauty and to "fit in" with their peers. If you are a school counsellor or youth leader, there are a number of activities that you can initiate that will provide teen girls in a group setting with resources and tools to confront this problem. Learning how to cope with social pressures and conquer low self-esteem can help these teen girls navigate the ups and downs of transitioning to adulthood.
Role-Playing, Building Self Esteem
One way to show a teen girl suffering from low self-esteem that her negative thoughts (like her self-image) are built on ideas that are unrealistic or unwarranted is to have a role-playing exercise. To build self-esteem, exercises should focus on qualities that each girl has that make her special. For instance, have each girl in your group develop a list of qualities that she likes about the other girls in her group. Offering resources to girls dealing with specific issues such as eating disorders or peer pressure to do something they are uncomfortable with is an important component if you are leading this type of session.
Sharing Journal Entries or Art
Ask each girl in your group to keep a journal that reflects both what she likes about herself and what she doesn't and wants to change. Some changes can be positive if approached in a healthy way, such as achieving a healthy weight. Another way to gauge how girls feel about themselves is to ask each girl to create a piece of artwork that expresses how she feels about herself. Hold a discussion that follows the sharing of journal excerpts or artwork that delves deeper into each entry or artwork, allowing these expressions to be a catalyst into uncovering truths and finding solutions.
Facing a Fear
Low self-esteem is sometimes a result of being afraid to face a fear or overcome an obstacle. Few things can build self-esteem more then achieving a goal seemingly impossible or facing a fear that previously appeared insurmountable. For instance, if a girl has a fear of singing in public, but dreams of being a professional singer one day, creating a venue where she can face her fears can give her a sense of personal accomplishment and pride in herself that she will take with her throughout her life.