Strategies to help handle difficult teen issues

January 7, 2009 5:34:59 PM PST
Mother and daughter team Hilary and Dani DeCesare, discuss two very important issues for young girls: building their self-esteem and keeping them safe online.

Hilary is the co-founder and CEO of Girl Ambition, an interactive online community for girls and their parents, and Dani is her 11-year-old daughter. THey offer the following tips:

Self-Esteem Tips & Stats

  • Today's girls are more susceptible than ever to pressure from the media and their peers that affects their self esteem (living in a time of an overly sexualized market, etc.)

    ** 70% of girls ages 15-17 don't participate in normal activities due to a lack of self-worth
    ** 87% of girls ages 15-17 have appearance anxiety related to today's "beauty ideals"

  • Compliment your daughter often to make her feel important and special; frame conversations in positive terms whenever possible and avoid judgmental phrases

    ** Girls who build confidence at a younger age are less likely to be negatively influenced as they get older. Girl Ambition provides inspirational messages through our mascot, Gabbi, and our tween spokesperson, Dani Girl, to instill confidence in girls

  • Highlight your daughter's strengths by encouraging her to partake in activities she enjoys and excels at (from soccer to art to playing the guitar) but also provide opportunities for her to try new things

    ** Participating in new experiences and trying new things helps build self-confidence in girls. Girl Ambition offers videos and games that gives girls ideas for new activities to try and gets them asking the question, "What if??" We also include an offline activity studio with lots of activities families can enjoy together to foster open communication

  • Set aside time to talk with and listen to your daughter and find out what was good and bad about her day, whether it is a family dinner or spending 10 minutes talking before bed.

    ** Girl Ambition CEO Hilary DeCesare plays a game with her kids where each night at dinner they talk about "The Rose, the Thorn and the Bud." The rose was the best part of each child's day, the thorn was something that didn't go well and the bud is what they're excited about for tomorrow.

    ** Girls who are able to have honest relationships with their parents are less likely to have self-esteem issues or engage in negative behavior as they become teenagers. At the end of the day, Girl Ambition wants to encourage parent/child interaction, and provides topics, information and resources to incite family activities and conversations

    Internet Safety Tips & Stats

  • We've all seen and heard the stories about online predators. Girl Ambition aims to empower girls and make them aware of potential dangers while providing a fun and safe online haven

    ** There are 11 million tween girls (age 7-12) online in the U.S.

    ** Tween spend 1.5 - 2 hours online each day and often don't tell their parents what they're doing online

  • Monitor your daughter's internet usage by providing set time periods that she is allowed to be online and a list of safe sites that they she has permission to visit

  • Talk to your girls about protecting their identity online, highlighting the dangers of posting personal information in a way that she will understand

    ** One in five of the nation's wired "tweens" -- kids ages 8 to 12 -- has posted personal information on the Internet, and more than a fourth have been contacted online by strangers, and one in ten of those tweens has chatted online with a stranger

    ** Girl Ambition uses videos and quizzes to teach girls about important internet safety tips, like how to set up a secure password

  • Girls today want to use modern Internet tools, but parents want controls-Girl Ambition is the answer as we've given girls email, instant messaging and other social tools but with parental controls in place to keep kids safe


    About Hilary DeCesare, co-founder and CEO
    Hilary DeCesare guides the company's business vision and day-to-day operations. She is an accomplished entrepreneur, and is experienced in all aspects of launching and growing a business.

    Prior to Girl Ambition, Hilary co-founded White Space Ink, a management consulting firm that specializes in working with start-up technology companies, with Girl Ambition VP Operations Debbie Munro. During her five-year tenure at White Space, Hilary counseled company executives on all areas of strategic planning and corporate development. Hilary also spent ten years working at Oracle Corporation in various sales management positions, winning more than 100 sales awards.

    Hilary is also the director of the West Coast chapters of Tween Angels and WiredSafety. She lives in Danville and is an active member of the Tassajara Hills Parent Teacher Association. Hilary graduated from the University of Colorado, Boulder with a B.A. in Psychology.

    About Dani DeCesare
    Dani is a powerhouse 11-year-old who is the star of the tween Web site, Girl Ambition. The mission of Girl Ambition is to help promote self-esteem and Internet safety among tween girls in a fun way.

    In her role as roving reporter, Dani Girl, and spokesperson for GabLiveTV, part of Girl Ambition's programming found at, she gets to try amazing new things, such as indoor skydiving and swimming with dolphins. She also tests out future career paths like learning to be an elephant trainer. Dani's hope is that her videos will help educate other girls her age on current events, help to inspire them to get involved in the world around them and unlock their potential.

    Dani lives in the Bay Area and has a fraternal twin brother and younger sister. When she's not attending school or trying out new things for Girl Ambition, 11-year-old Dani loves karate and cheerleading.