5 Phrases Mothers Say To Their Daughters Which Can Destroy Their Self-Esteem

All girls suffer from self-esteem issues at some point, and many parents think that the media is responsible alone for their daughter’s lack of self-confidence. Although adverts, television and social media such as Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and blogging and bookmarking sites such as Tumblr and Pinterest prove a definite decline in women and girls’ confidence, studies have shown, confidence is first learned and instilled from parents.

Girls viewing unhelpful material can be avoided by unsubscribing to such sites. However, comments made by mothers to their daughters can be psychologically damaging to their self esteem for many years, and those phrases are not something that can be switched off, like social media.

Self esteem is not just about how you feel about your appearance, as is often thought. It is a mixture of your confidence in your personality, your abilities and your appearance. It also governs our ability to look at ourselves and other people realistically.

If we see ourselves in a terrible light, or if we feel unconfident, other people can seem unfairly advantageous, and we compare ourselves to them. It can stop us striving to achieve in school and jobs, and it can play a role in us forming unhealthy friendships and romantic relationships, often settling for negative people.

The effect of a mother’s comments on their daughter can be tenfold more intense than that of a school friend or acquaintance. Our psychology is intrinsically linked to our mothers, and we have a natural need to mimic and please them. What they say to us we take incredibly seriously, and to heart.

Certain phrases are surprisingly common in the home that has an intensely adverse effect on a girl’s self-esteem. Below are five phrases that can have such consequences, not only immediately but also many years later.

1) “Girls can’t do that.”

Girls told they cannot do something because of their gender has life-long implications on their self-esteem.

Mothers usually use this phrase when a girl tries to sit with their legs open, play in the mud, play football, or later on in life, for example, want to train to be a mechanic, for a short list of examples.

Girls can't do thatTelling a girl that they have to sit in a way to protect their dignity during their height of innocence at a child, or to not play football or become a mechanic is installing the belief that she is not worthy and that something is wrong with her. The girl sees boys being able to do such things, which they are just not allowed to do, simply because they are a girl.

Girls are growing into women believing they cannot perform certain roles outside of their mother’s expectations and often feel inhibited and have issues with their self-confidence in any role that their mother has insisted “girls can’t do.”

Not only does it make them self-conscious about their gender, but may also stop them from applying for their dream job or fulfilling their talents.

2.”Don’t be ridiculous.”

“Don’t be ridiculous/ stupid.” is another phrase that takes away from a girls self-worth, and it is worryingly commonplace.

Many girls may come to their mother with an issue; they may express that they feel overweight or bullied at school. There are so many examples where a mother’s response to their child is that they should not be so silly.

Mother’s reducing their daughter’s feelings, or worries in this manner can reduce a girls self-worth. It can make them feel bad for opening up, and that their feelings are not worthy. Even more worryingly, in cases of abuse, it has been shown that girls have gone to their mother when something has happened, and the mother has responded in a way that suggests they are not telling the truth, or are overreacting.

See also  The Nightmare of Being in a Relationship with a Narcissist. How to identify it.

3. “If you were more like your Sister/ Brother.”

Some mothers often compare their children. Not only does it create friction between the siblings, but it also sets the girl up to compare herself to other people into adulthood and even beyond. People that have experienced this confusing phrase often, as children, as well as when they are adults lead a life feeling they have to compete. Living in a such a manner disallows the person to feel contended with their achievements.

Comparing siblings about their appearance has this same effect. They will always be worried that partner will not stay with them, or love them enough, or will leave them for another person, just as their mother seemed to ‘leave’ them for their sibling.

4. “You’re not skinny enough to wear that.”

mother daughter selfimage

In the western world, and now with the west’s influence on beauty in the east as well, girls are always told they are too fat. Girls that are an entirely healthy size for their height and girls that are slightly overweight, or are indeed larger are regularly experiencing dehumanizing comments.

The surprising thing about this phrase is it’s usually a reflection of the mother’s feelings of herself. Some mothers reflect their feelings of discomfort with their weight or appearance on their daughters; not usually meant with any ill intent, the mother’s phrase often camouflaged with her feelings of negative self-worth, so it does not register as abusive language.

Girls experiencing such treatment from their mothers can feel that their weight is more important than who they are. In extreme circumstances, it can aid in developing severe mental disorders such as bulimia and anorexia. Women’s Self-image, 5 Tips To Hеlр Wоmеn Inсrеаѕе Self Esteem

5. “You don’t have it as hard as I had it.”

It is hard to think about someone who has not had this said to them by their mother. It is not helpful though, and crippling to girl’s self-worth.

When a mother suggests to their daughter that they had a worse life than their daughter, it not only devalues whatever the girl has brought up but it also inadvertently makes the girl feel guilty for their mother’s experiences. It can stop them from speaking out in the future, as they have been taught “others always have it worse”. They also use this learned comment to compare with others and stops them being able to look at their issues relatively.

It is important that any subject brought up by a daughter to their mother be considered and talked about openly, and realistically.

It is almost impossible for mothers to say ‘perfect’ comments to their daughters all the time, it simply isn’t achievable. However, it is possible to double check what you are saying and the deeper implications it can have on a girl, striving to be the best they can be in such a complex world.

Other way that can destroy the self esteem of  children boys or girls is parents have become so conscious about their child’s grades that they tend to hurt and pressurize them emotionally, and often physically. I still remember when my mother use to compare me with my friend because my grades, never work for me because I didn’t have any interest in school. This rebellious behavior can destroy the self confidence and self esteem of a child. The child would have no one to turn to. Instead of adopting the good ethical values of his parents, he would restrain from obeying his parents. This can have a bad effect on his mental health. Here are some more things that parents do and can destroy their children’s self esteem:

See also  Depression and Low Self Esteem

parents can destroy children self esteem

Looking for imperfections

Nobody is perfect. Every child has flaws and inabilities. Parents become obnoxious if their child possesses negative characteristics or characteristics which do not complement their positive characteristics. Many parents are nonplussed and threatened, if their child possesses negative characteristics. Read more about  I am never good enough for anyone

They want to eliminate the negative characteristics that the child possesses, through criticism and parental pressure. Many parents want a carbon copy of them as a child. They want their child’s goals, interests and ambitions to be as same as them.

Instead of focusing on the mental health and the interests, the parents criticize the child and put intense parental pressure, that destroys the self esteem of the child. They don’t provide a chance for the child to open up about his interests and goals.

Classify a kid intellectual capacity based on school results

Many parents want their child to top the school exams. Parents do not judge their child upon the abilities and skills that he posses, but instead, judge his intellectual capacity and capabilities, based on the school results.

The educational system has the same standard for everyone. But, the parents and the educational system fail to understand that each child possesses a different intellectual capacity. Not every child can understand mathematics at the same pace. Most parents pressurize their child to get high grades in the school. The parental pressure affects his mental health and he starts to lose the self-esteem, in the never-ending race to get higher grades.

Showing that is no way kids can reach to their dreams, it is only fairy dreams

kids cannot reach dream

If the child is not the carbon copy of his parents, most parents force their child to mold into a person that they are. If he does not possess the same characteristics as his parents and follow a different career path than his parents, the parents tend to disregard him as unsuccessful.

Instead of preaching him to follow his dreams and life goals, the parents constantly pin them to choose an alternative path that they have decided for him. They constantly teach their child that it is useless and impossible to follow the dreams, aspirations and goals that he has decided for himself. They always pressurize their child into thinking that the goals that he is running, after having no value in the society.

No Appreciation

Most of the parents do not praise and appreciate their children. This does not only destroy the mental health of the child but also ruins the self esteem.

Those parents who do not appreciate their children on little things, such as the drawings or social projects, are being wrongful to their children. They are constantly urging the children to stop putting efforts into the work that they love, whether it is big or small. Not praising the kids can create a sense of humiliation. They start to lose the trust in their parents. It also destroys the self-esteem of the children to the level, where they can’t recover back to the normal state.

No let their kids the option to choose

kids option to choose

Every human has a right to be independent and free. Every individual has a chance to choose his own goals, career and ambition. But parents, who are conscious about their child’s life do not give any rights to the kids, to think for themselves. They do not let him decide on his own, and decide whatever they think is best for the child.

This act destroys the self confidence, self-esteem and the inner-trust of the child. The parents steal the child’s freedom from him and make it difficult for him to survive in the cruel society. Consequently, the child has to face the societal pressure, because of the decision that his parents made.

See also  What Is a Narcissistic Mother?. Recognizing the Signs

The kids always has to be submissive to the parents

Parents are responsible to teach the ethical, moral and social values to their child. They either bring up a kid in a friendly manner or end up demanding the blind obedience for life. This is not how parenting goes. This submission will be a problem at school and work, never stand up for their own values.

The parents should trust their child and his actions. They should never demand blind obedience but instead teach a child to always stand up for himself, even if the parents are doing wrong to him. But most parents demand submission from the children. This not only makes a child stubborn and mischievous, but also destroys his self-esteem. He would regard himself as a slave instead of a child.


Improve a child’s self esteem

There are different ways that the parents can adapt to boost and improve the self-esteem and self-confidence of the child. Not only will he feel free but also protected. These are the ways that you can adopt, to let the child explore himself:

  • Make a child independent. Do not serve everything on a plate. Doing everything for your child can be harmful to the child, once he sees the real face of the society. Teach him to make his own decisions and stay by his decisions, no matter what. This will enhance his self-confidence and the trust, he has on himself.
  • Do not point out the flaws of the child. Understand that no one is perfect and neither is the child. Teach him to be a better person, instead of being perfect. Explain it to him that everybody has weaknesses, inabilities and flaws and a person should only try to embrace his flaws. Make sure that you embrace your child’s flaws as well. This will make it easy for him to represent his social and ethical values in front of the society.
  • Create a sense of feeling in the child that you too, are dependent on him. This helps big time to build a healthy relationship between you and your child. Assign household chores that are age-appropriate and ask him for his help, more often. This will not only boost his self-esteem, but will also prepare him for the near future. It will also nurture his social and ethical values.
  • Do not compare him with your other children. Children hate comparison. Comparison kills them from inside and they lose their self-esteem and happiness. They start seeing themselves as the worst. Try to appreciate them as often as possible. Praise them as much as possible, to encourage them. Accept them as they are.
  • Give the child various choices. Do not burden him with your decision. Give him some options to choose from the decisions, pre-selected by you. This will boost his self-esteem and it would build a healthy and truthful relationship, between you and your child.
  • Do not scream at a child. Screaming or beating a child can create hatred in his heart. Whatever you have to teach, teach him with a soft tone. Do not call him by sarcastic and offensive names to prove a point.


Children are like flowers. They get crushed upon putting pressure on them. Treat them kindly and with love, to boost their self esteem and self confidence. Never judge a child based on his school results. Every child possesses a different talent, ability, intellectual capacity and a mindset.





Photo by 童 彤

Similar Posts