Organized Sports Could Help Give Your Daughter A Self-Esteem Boost

by Jessa McClure on May 29, 2012

in Parenting

young girls holding tennis racketsWe all know that physical activity is healthy for children, especially young girls. But why may it be better for your daughter to be a part of an athletic team?

Scott & White pediatrician, Phillip G. Itkin, MD, FAAP  said that participating in organized sports gives your little girl the feeling of accomplishment and camaraderie with her teammates, which in turn helps boost her self-esteem.

“Organized sports help children develop a sense of teamwork, acceptance and discipline for the sake of the team,” Dr. Itkin said. “They learn a role all within the frame work of fitness and fun.”

“Organized sports help children develop a sense of teamwork, acceptance and discipline for the sake of the team,” Dr. Itkin said. “They learn a role all within the frame work of fitness and fun.”

It’s very important for people to find success, the pediatrician said, and it can be judged in many different ways in sports and fitness.

“For instance, you don’t have to be an Olympic swimmer to be better at swimming,” he said. “You can develop your own personal bests.”

Sports not only help young girls create goals to work towards and experience success, but their overall mental well-being may also benefit.

According to a statement by the American Academy of Pediatrics, regular physical activity “is associated with an increase in self-esteem and self-concept and a decrease in anxiety and depression.”

So, how do you encourage your daughter to get moving and join a team?

Dr. Itkin said the best way is to lead by example.

“Children learn how to do activities from good role models,” he said. “If you [participate in sports], then your children will want to emulate you.”

The pediatrician said it is also essential to teach your model sportsmanship-like behavior when participating in sports.

“Certainly have a code of conduct before, during and after the game where you behave properly so the kids get the idea that you’re stimulated by what they’re doing, but that you are appropriate in what you’re doing.”

Booing the ref or calling the other team cheaters gives your child license to imitate that behavior.

How do I know if my daughter is having self-esteem issues?

While researchers say that girls who play sports do better in school and are better able to handle the pressures of child and teenhood, sometimes young girls can still have self-esteem issues.

“You can see behavioral changes,” Dr. Itkin said. “They might use statements like ‘I’m stupid’ or ‘I’m not pretty.’ You might also notice anti-social behavior like trouble in the classroom, grades dropping, non-participation with friends or losing friends.” also offers some possible warning signs for a girl with self-esteem issues.

She doesn’t accept compliments well

While a confident person will accept a compliment with a “thank you,” someone with low self-esteem will discourage the compliment and say the statement is untrue. In fact, according to a Discovery Girl’s survey, only 22 percent of girls say that compliments from their parents make them feel best.

She walks with her head down or has poor posture

A girl suffering from poor self-esteem will be more likely to walk with her head down, avoiding eye contact. Unlike a confident girl who walks with her head high, making eye contact and smiling.

She says she’s not pretty or that her friends are prettier

It’s normal for a girl between the ages of 8 and 12 to start noticing how her friends look compared to herself. But it becomes a concern when she can’t seem to get past these jealous feelings.

Your daughter has a hard time talking to others or is very shy

Shyness can be related to low self-esteem. If she seems nervous, anxious or uncomfortable in social situations, she may not be feeling great about herself.

How can I help improve my daughter’s self-esteem?

While showing signs of self-esteem issues isn’t an emergency, it’s still something that can be improved upon.

“The first thing is to have positive discipline,” Dr. Itkin said, “where you tell the child what they do well, instead of harping on the things they do wrong.”

The child will want to please you because they like the positive attention.

It’s also important to give children responsibilities so they feel a sense of accomplishment.

“They need to have chores and responsibilities in academics and their sports,” he said. “They owe something to a team that they participate in. They have to show up and they have to do their work.”

For more information about your daughter and her self-esteem, visit or

Has your daughter struggled with self-esteem issues? What have you done to help boost her confidence and self-image?

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