You want to raise your girl to have a positive self-image, healthy self-esteem, and confidence in her own abilities. Here are 10 important things you must do to raise strong, confident daughters!
As a mom of 2 little girls, I sometimes can’t help but worry about their future. Will they be able to navigate life, particularly the tough stuff?
In particular, I’m thinking about bullying, gossiping, popularity, and other challenges girls often face, especially in school or peer groups.
I want my daughters to be kind and compassionate, but not wimpy or timid. Compassionate and confident!
There are so many things that we, as moms, can do to raise strong, confident daughters. Here are my top 10:
Be a role model
As I grow in my parenting journey, I realize that every single thing I model my girls pick up on (good and bad habits!). If you want your daughters to be confident, YOU have to be confident and self-assured. YOU need to model what you want for your daughter.
You can’t raise a kind, compassionate daughter if she sees you constantly trash-talking other people.
You can’t raise a confident daughter if you lack self-confidence and show this through your words and actions. This doesn’t mean you can’t struggle, but you if you fall down you have to get back up again and keep trying.
Talk about yourself in a positive way
Part of being a good role model involves talking about yourself (and other women) in a positive way.
Teach your daughter to value herself by modeling healthy respect for yourself. Don’t talk negatively about your body. Instead, be positive, take good care of yourself and teach her to do the same.
Focus on character
Focus on your daughter’s character (not her appearance or performance). Teach her to work hard, be a good, compassionate friend, and pursue her goals. In the end, what truly matters is who she is, not what she looks like or if she is the best.
Don’t praise her appearance, but her behavior and qualities. Point out qualities like:
- internal strength
Praise effort, not just accomplishments
Build her confidence by emphasizing the hard work, dedication and perseverance she showed by never giving up until she reached her goal.
This is especially important when a goal is harder to reach, as giving up is always the easy way out. Working hard takes guts and determination.
Let her fail
On the other hand, you need to also let your daughter fail – and let her know it’s ok to fail! Teach her that all failure is a learning experience, and we only truly fail when we give up or stop moving forward.
Find ways to help her take risks and learn to be brave and bold.
Encourage her interests
Let your daughter get out and try new things, and if she finds something that interests her, encourage her to pursue it even if it’s not exciting to you.
Maybe you are not musically gifted, but she wants to try playing the guitar.
Soccer is your sport, but she wants to try swimming. Sign her up for some classes.
Be her support and show her that she is unique and that you believe in her. Guide her to follow her dreams and pursue her goals.
Be mindful of media
The pervasive message in the media is you have to be thin, young, and very pretty. This is a harmful (and discouraging) message for girls of any age (because let’s face it, we’ll all get old one day!)
Make it a point to consciously avoid harmful shows, magazines, and images that promote messages like this. Be mindful of what you allow your daughter to read, hear, and watch. Take time to discuss these topics with her as well.
Once my 4-year-old was sitting at the window and looking out dreamily and I asked what she was doing and she said “waiting for my prince to come.” Yikes! Well, after that I put a limit on wimpy princess stories and movies and started reading about courageous and brave girls.
(Although I realize that she’s just 4 and has a vivid imagination and a very active life. She also loves watching You vs. Wild and she pretends she’s Bear Grylls often, so that’s a relief!).
In addition, studies suggest a possible connection between excessive use of social media use and depression. As an adult, even I find it difficult to avoid comparing myself to other friends on social media who look more beautiful than me or have bigger houses and more money. Young girls are much more impressionable!
Read and discuss stories of other women
Give her opportunities to read stories of strong, brave women (fictional and real) and discuss the qualities of the characters.
Girls need to know how to navigate social situations. Give her tools on what to say in difficult situations.
A great way to do this is through role play. When a situation comes up (in a book or real life), discuss different ways that she can handle it. Talk about things she can do and say in each scenario. This gives her tools to use when things get tough.
Help her talk about situations like:
- how to stand up for herself
- how to make friends
Related: Raising emotionally intelligent kids
Provide unconditional love
Ultimately, at the end of the day, your daughter needs to know that she is loved unconditionally by you. She needs to know you’ll love her whether or not she’s good at basketball (like you are) or she’s a math whiz in school (as you were) or her hair is curly or her legs are skinny. No matter what she needs to feel your love and acceptance.
You can raise strong, confident daughters. Be a strong role model, encourage her interests, and talk about the qualities that confident women have. I’d love to hear your tips for raising strong, confident girls!