Girls are smart, strong, influential members of society who can grow up to become whoever they want, as long as they’re thin, beautiful, and agree to make less money than their male counterparts. They should always strive to do their best, but they should be careful not to brag about their accomplishments. Good girls are seen and not heard.
Girls today receive so many conflicting messages from society about who they are and should become, it’s a wonder any of them are able to find their identity at all. As an involved parent, below are some things you can do to help quash what society’s selling and help your daughter live her life on her own terms:
The feeling of mastering a subject or task is a powerful component to building a healthy self-esteem. You can help your daughter feel capable in her world with simple, everyday tasks like practicing the piano, completely homework exercises, or making a side dish for dinner. These kinds of exercises will help her develop skills and give her the confidence to try new things. It’s important to keep in mind that her performance on these tasks doesn’t have to be perfect. Provide encouragement for what she did well.
Encourage a Healthy Image
When your daughter asks the question “Am I pretty?” don’t dismiss it and go on to lecture her that looks aren’t everything. When she asks the inevitable question, answer with a sincere yes and then highlight one of her recent actions that showcases inner beauty: “Not only are you beautiful, you have a good heart. That was so nice of you to include your brother in your soccer game earlier today.”
Encourage Her Hobbies
Try not to decide which activities are right for your daughter and avoid pushing activities on her of which she has no interest. Instead, help her figure out what she likes and doesn’t like, and encourage those pursuits. Whether she wants to learn ballet or play football, give her a chance to try it out and test her abilities.
Ensure Her Friendships are Healthy
Girls can play some twisted psychological games on one another. Do what you can to ensure your daughter’s friends support and affirm her best possible self. Being accepted for who you are is an invaluable part of maintaining a strong sense of self-worth; if your daughter’s closest friends aren’t supportive and loving, it will take a toll on her psychological health. If you discover your daughter doesn’t have healthy friendships, find ways to connect her with new friends.
Identify Role Models
One of the best was to introduce your daughter to strong females is through reading. If your daughter isn’t much of a reader, take every opportunity you can to point out positive female role models in the news, online, or in your own circle of friends. And of course, there’s her single most important role model – you. Be mindful of how you handle mistakes, disappointment, anger, and your own body image. Allow your daughter to see how to communicate her feelings and express herself respectfully. She may not always follow suit, but your behavior will provide her with the blueprint she needs.
While this list is by no means complete, it is a good start. The important thing is to do what you can to provide your daughter with all the psychological and emotional tools possible to help her mature into self-confident women.
Do you have any advice you would add to this list?