Raising confident girls
There are lots of challenges that come along with growing up as a woman in this world. With all of the expectations, judgements and social pressures on our girls, it’s more important than ever to instil a strong sense of self-confidence and self-esteem in them.
Here are eight tips for building up your girl’s confidence, empowering her to become a strong, independent woman.
Having a powerful woman for your girl to look up to is a great way to help her with her confidence. There are countless positive female role models to choose from, in all walks of life. Allow your little one to explore and gravitate towards women that they aspire to be like. These can be world leaders, heads of industries, artists or athletes. Seeing a woman take on the world and win is a surefire way to inspire young girls to reach for the stars.
Standing up for herself
Teaching your daughter to stand up for herself is crucial. While remaining respectful, she should be able to state her boundaries and not allow others to push her around. You can role play various situations together, such as a child being unkind to her or an adult speaking to her dismissively. Running through these scenarios together will set your daughter up, enabling her to stand her ground at all times.
Let her choose her hobbies
It’s time to put down any preconceived notions of what it means to be a girl. If your little one wants to play sports, do ballet, paint or solve puzzles, try to make this possible for her. Girls need to explore their own passions, whatever they may be, without the pressure to do ‘girly’ things or avoid hobbies that are ‘just for boys’. This freedom to have fun in a way that suits them will show your child that she can express herself in her own way and chase her own dreams.
Your little girl deserves compliments as much as everyone else. Bear in mind to keep them well-rounded though. Compliments on her appearance are, of course, lovely for her to receive, but make sure to also speak highly of her intelligence, her creativity, her strength and her kindness. With a wide range of compliments, your little one will begin to feel strong, capable and beautiful. Keep it natural – the effect will be weakened if you are continuously showering your daughter with compliments (though she might deserve it!)
Positive body image
Despite an increase in awareness around the topic of unrealistic beauty standards for women, there is still a lot of negative messaging out there. Gently explain to your little one that every person is uniquely beautiful and there is no right and wrong. Take time to explain the fact that many of the images we see online are photoshopped through a specific lens to result in a very narrow view of what beauty is. With confidence in her natural beauty, your daughter will learn to express herself through her appearance, while not falling into the trap of endless comparison.
Brace her for sexism
Unfortunately, your daughter will inevitably experience sexism at various stages throughout her life. She may be disrespected, overlooked, under-appreciated and patronised. This commonplace inequality will make aspects of life harder for her, but a little preparation will at least mean that it won’t come as a surprise. This doesn’t need to be an overly negative conversation. A gentle warning and a few pointers on how to manage will go a long way. Reinforce her positive sense of self and be on hand to comfort her when she experiences it.
Praise her achievements
Try to praise your daughter’s achievements, no matter what they are. Keep your praise grounded and realistic, however, as overdoing it will not go unnoticed by your little one and she might begin to dismiss your kind words. Celebrate her wins, both big and small and remind her of how proud you are of her. If you genuinely and accurately speak highly of her achievements, the positivity will sink in and your daughter’s confidence will grow.
Getting left out
Getting left out always hurts, no matter what age you are. Not receiving an invite to a party, or not being in the ‘cool group’ at school can really dent a child’s confidence. Explain that everyone gets left out from time to time and that it’s not to be taken personally. Help her to understand that if someone is being mean to her, that’s much more of a reflection on that person than on your little one. Finding a core group of friends, and nurturing those friendships, offers a social support network that will undoubtedly give your child confidence and boost their self-esteem.
All parents have a responsibility to do their best to raise confident daughters. Teaching them strategies to develop confidence and striving for equality between them and their male counterparts will go a long way. Gender equality has much improved in recent times but there is still plenty to be done and every parent can contribute to make the world a better experience for their daughter and for all young girls.