Tag: Positive

Positive Body Image in the Age of Selfies and Social Media

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Posted on by Zoe Barnes

Developing Positive Self-Esteem & Body Image in Pre-teen Girls

We all want to raise confident girls who respect and feel positive about themselves. High self-esteem can aid mental health. It is linked to lower anxiety, greater resilience, better outcomes when dealing with adversity and stronger relationships (Mann, Hosman, Schaalma & De Vries, 2004). Unfortunately however, for girls, self-esteem is often tied to their self body image. Our culture has a tendency to value girls by how they look, instead of their achievements or successes (Tiggermann & Slater, 2013).

The link between appearance and self-esteem for girls in Western society, thinness, youth and beauty are valued attributes for girls. Think about the actresses you see on television, celebrities in magazines and models in advertising. Media portrays thinness as the ideal and young, beautiful women are portrayed as stylish, successful, and popular. Attractiveness has become synonymous with self-worth and value.

Women and girls come in all shapes and sizes. Only 5-10% of women are in the same height and weight range as models, but thinness prevails as the ideal attractive body type.

Social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram, have lead to increased social comparison and greater body surveillance (Holland & Tiggermann, 2016). With 75% of teens having a social media profile, there is a vast public platform for self-presentation, communication, and social comparison (Tiggermann & Slater, 2013). However, girls don’t just compare themselves to realistic images of their peers; they also compare themselves to Instagram models who use filters, airbrushing and other digital enhancements (Holland & Tiggermann, 2016).

When young girls are bombarded with unrealistic beauty standards, they can internalise these standards, creating greater dissatisfaction with their own body. As a result, girls might begin to hate their bodies, develop unhealthy attitudes about food, engage in dieting, develop eating disorders, feel worthless, self-harm, avoid going to places where they might be judged based on their appearance such as the beach, or develop mental health disorders such as anxiety, or depression (Tiggermann & Slater, 2013).

While body image has long been a concern for teenagers and pubescent girls, research has shown that girls as young as 6 years old are aware of their appearance and have expressed a desire for thinness (Lowes & Tiggemann, 2003). A U.S. study found that one in four children had engaged in some kind of dieting behaviour before 7 years of age (Lowes & Tiggemann, 2003). Additionally, a child’s weight is a strong predictor of self-esteem and body satisfaction (Jones, 2002).

Puberty is a particularly difficult time due to the developmental changes in girls’ bodies. Puberty brings on rapid changes in hormonal, emotional and physical development. The ideal body image or appearance is likely to be markedly different from the reality of a developing pubescent body, causing greater body dissatisfaction by comparison. As many as 75% of Australian high school girls feel fat or want to lose weight (The Butterfly Foundation, 2019).

Explaining the natural changes that occur throughout puberty can help girls accept their body and reduce pressure to look like the body images represented in the media.

Developing positive body image

Body image is shaped by socio-cultural values, role models and social comparisons (Lowes & Tiggemann, 2003). This means that family, friends and the media are important influences on a young person’s self image.

Some do’s and don’ts (The Butterfly Foundation, 2019):

  • Don’t focus on your child’s appearance or tease them about their appearance.
  • Don’t talk about your own body in a negative way or focus on what you’re eating. Avoid labeling food as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ or discussing diets or methods of weight control.
  • Don’t comment on how people look. Watch those subtle comments, such as “You look great!…Have you lost weight?” or “That would look horrible on me.”
  • Do model healthy choices and make healthy eating and exercise a part of your daily life and routine.
  • Do model healthy attitudes about body image, accept and value people no matter how they look.
  • Do use a critical eye when looking at pictures in the media or images on social media. Explain to your child that images have been altered, filtered or air-brushed to enhance their appearance – they are not realistic representations or ideals to aspire to!
  • Do prepare children for the physical changes that come with puberty. Explain what to expect and allow your child to ask questions.
  • Do compliment your child on their non-physical attributes. Focus on their personalities or skills. Try compliments like, “You show great kindness to your friends,” or “You have a very creative imagination.”

Supporting girls to develop positive self esteem

Self-esteem grows from a sense of accomplishment, achieving personal goals, learning new skills, receiving recognition from others and internalising positive values (Child Mind Institute, 2019).

Let’s celebrate what girls do rather than how they look. Notice and praise the things girls do while engaging in activities like art, sport, dance, writing, maths. Encourage girls to continue their extra-curricular activities based on their strengths and interests.

Focus on personal strengths. Are they kind, smart, strong, witty, or funny?

One way to build self-esteem is to start a proud moments album. A visual record of proud moments such as photos, drawings, certificates, and positive comments from significant others can help to boost self-esteem, and can be particularly helpful when children are feeling low about themselves.

Giving compliments can help boost your child’s self-esteem. For compliments to be effective they need to be meaningful and genuine. Don’t say “Wow that is the best artwork I’ve ever seen!” Instead, comment on the details. For example, you could say, “the colours that you used are really beautiful.” Some children might not receive compliments well and they might need you to tone down the compliments. Try saying, “It looks like you put in lots of effort with this artwork.” Or you can encourage self-reflection by asking questions like, “How do you feel about this artwork?” or “How did it feel to play your first game of soccer?”

Praise the effort rather than the results (Child Mind Institute, 2019). Encourage girls to try new things and praise them for their perseverance. Be specific in your praise. Positive examples include, “Great effort with goal-shooting today,”  “You did so well at staying calm and not reacting,” or “Amazing drawing, I love the colours and detail.”

Set a positive example and model kind comments (Child Mind Institute, 2019). Mums, be careful not to put yourself down. Other adults in the family should also be mindful not to put other women down in front of your child. Comments such as “that outfit looks horrible,” or using labels such as: “she’s so fat” can be harmful to girls listening. Instead, make an effort to comment on what other women are doing. Try  “She’s inspiring because she donates her time to charities,” or “Wow, she’s worked so hard and now she represents her country in her sport.”

Encourage girls to engage in a fun form of exercise or team sport. Exercise can improve self-esteem, help children gain a sense of mastery, improve physical strength and lead girls to feel positive about their bodies (Mann et al., 2004).

If you would like some help learning how to implement these strategiesplease contact us on 9362 9297 to discuss the ways in which our team could assist. Alternatively, you could book a consultation with us. We are always here to help support your family!


The Butterfly Foundation (2019). What is Body Image? Accessed on 15th May, 2019, from https://thebutterflyfoundation.org.au/understand-eating-disorders/body-image/

Child Mind Institute (2019). 13 Ways to Boost Your Daughter’s Self Esteem. Accessed on 21st May, 2019, from https://childmind.org/article/13-ways-to-boost-your-daughters-self-esteem/

Holland, G., & Tiggemann, M. (2016). A systematic review of the impact of the use of social networking sites on body image and disordered eating outcomes. Body image, 17, 100-110. Doi: 10.1016/j.bodyim.2016.02.008

Jones, D. C. (2002). Social comparison and body image: Attractiveness comparisons to models and peers among adolescent girls and boys. Sex Roles, 45(9/10), 645–662. Doi: 10.1023/A:1014815725852

Lowes, J. & Tiggemann, M. (2003). Body dissatisfaction, dieting awareness and the impact of parental influence in young children. The British Psychological Society, 8(2), 135–147. Doi: 10.1348/135910703321649123

Mann, M. M., Hosman, C. M., Schaalma, H. P., & De Vries, N. K. (2004). Self-esteem in a broad-spectrum approach for mental health promotion. Health education research, 19(4), 357-372. Doi: https://doi.org/10.1093/her/cyg041

Tiggemann, M., & Slater, A. (2013). NetGirls: The Internet, Facebook, and body image concern in adolescent girls. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 46(6), 630-633. Doi: 10.1002/eat.22141


Sports Psychology Tips to Stop Negative Self-Talk

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Posted on by Leonardo Rocker (Quirky Kid Staff)

Sports Psychology Tips to Stop Negative Self-Talk

When it comes to improving performance. building self-esteem, good sportsmanship, and camaraderie, one of the most important aspects of sports psychology is positive self-talk. Research suggests that positive self-talk is associated with better performance. In fact, the Australian Sports Commission has carried out research that demonstrates the detrimental impact negative self-talk has on performance and having a positive attitude when it comes to athletic endeavours improves performance.

Young people, in particular, can benefit from learning more about positive self-talk. Improvements in their inner dialogue can improve both their attitude and performance and can have a positive influence on their interactions outside the sporting sphere. Quirky Kid has developed a program designed at young people aged 10 to 16, called Power Up. 

A common presentation for our young athletes is an inner dialogue that is dominated with doubt and negativity. Common expressions we hear from our young athletes are

“I’ll never be able to do it!”,
“I am no good at it,”
“there is no point trying.”

This type of negative self-talk can prevent a young athlete from performing well and create a negative cycle of poor self-esteem and poor performance. If a child feels they can’t be successful at a task, they often accept, and even expect failure. Negativity can turn a child’s insecurities into a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The good news is that positive self-talk is a skill that children can learn and utilise with practice. By using positive self-talk, young athletes can build the confidence they require to accept new challenges, maintain a healthy self-esteem, and build on new skills, even when the task is personally challenging. The first task in helping children challenge and change their self-talk is to support them in recognising negative self-talk patterns and identifying unhelpful language such as “can’t” or “never” in their internal dialogue. Some children put themselves down by referring to themselves as “stupid” or by using other put-downs. Once a child has identified negative self-talk, they can be assisted in challenging and replacing those thoughts.

Like many habits, the process of replacing negative self-talk can take some time. Children need to learn to interrupt patterns of self-doubt with more realistic and helpful thinking. For example, a young soccer player who tells herself, “I’ll never score this goal,” can replace this thought with a more helpful and realistic thought such as  “I’ve made the goal many times during practice and I can do it again!”. Just saying happy things is not enough, children must believe the positive thought and thus the key is to replace negative thoughts with thoughts that reflect reality and that are helpful.

One way to practise positive thinking is through practising self-talk out loud each morning in front of the mirror. Write a daily affirmation on a Post-It note and stick it on the child’s mirror so they can start each day in a positive frame of mind. Ask them to say the affirmation out loud in the morning, and to remind themselves of it whenever they’re thinking negatively throughout the day.

Interrupting and replacing negative self-talk can be a challenging task for children who suffer from low self-esteem, but with practise, young athletes can learn to accept challenging situations without putting themselves down and can and learn to feel good about both their strengths and weaknesses.

If you’re interested in learning more about how sports psychology can help children develop their self-esteem and athletic skills, and be positive teammates, please contact us.

Support network:

Purchasing Power up


Austin, M (2016). Listening to the voices in your head: identifying and adapting athletes’ self-talk. Volume 28 Number 4
Bunker, L, Williams, JM and Zinsser, N 1993, ‘Cognitive techniques for improving performance and self-confidence’, in JM Williams (ed.), Applied sport psychology: personal growth to peak performance, Mayfield, Mountain View, CA. pages numbers?

Carlson, R 1997, Don’t sweat the small stuff, Bantam, Milson’s Point, NSW.

Carlson, R 2005, Easier than you think, HarperCollins, New York, NY.

Hardy, L, Jones, G and Gould, D 1998, Understanding psychological preparation for sport: theory and practice of elite performers, John Wiley and Sons, West Sussex, UK. pages numbers?