Welcome to Mumsnet!

We’re delighted you’ve found us. Join in the conversation on the UK's busiest site for parents

Get started »

What does it mean to be a good role model?

Your role is vital when it comes to your daughter's self-esteem. In fact 54% of girls cite their mothers as their primary role model*.

Every word, sigh, pinch of a thigh, or negative comment she hears can have an impact on how she sees herself. As she develops a sense of identity in the world, she will model her beliefs about her self-worth on the relationships she has with close members of family and friends. 

Parents play such an incredible role in modelling healthy and positive behaviours, so try to think of yourself as a mirror, reflecting back to your daughter what beliefs she should form.

But the reality is that just because we are a mother doesn't mean we are immune to the same pressures. You may tell your daughter she's beautiful every day, but if she hears you constantly criticising your own body, she might feel she has to judge herself in a similar way.


Body image around the world

When it comes to beauty, women remain their own worst critics. Global research shows only 4% of women consider themselves beautiful.** Other research shows women are much more critical of their appearance than men, and much less likely to admire what they see in the mirror. It's easy to see this attitude is being passed on to tomorrow's women. So what can we do to help our daughters avoid this?

We can be the force to help change this and help our daughters critically interpret appearance-related pressure.

"Your children are keen observers and she'll be more apt to feel confident to raise tricky subjects with you when she sees you act with integrity", says clinical psychologist Dr. Tara Cousineau. "She has to know that you'll listen and help her without judging or jumping to conclusions."

Did you know?
54% of girls cite their mothers as their primary role model, according to the 2010 Dove Global Study.

Psychologists suggest aunts, older sisters or female adult friends can also play significant roles in girls' lives by being other trusted people they can talk to. Having other female confidants also lessens the intensity in the mother-daughter relationship.

*Dove global study 2010
** Etcoff et al, 2004. The Real Truth About Beauty: A Global Report

Last updated: over 3 years ago