10 Ways to raise strong, confident girls

There’s no way to sugar-coat it: raising a confident, self-assured daughter who is comfortable with her body, is a mammoth task.

As soon as the magic wand runs over your jelly covered belly confirming that “it’s” a girl, it is game on! Girls today are bombarded with mixed messages about themselves, their bodies, their rights and their abilities. They are usually the ones that talk early, socialize faster and do well in school. However, as they grow older, peer pressure as, well as the media, will confuse even the most level-headed girl. As a parent you play such an important role to inspire the daughters in your life to value themselves for exactly who they are.

Fortunately there are some parenting tips to help you raise strong, confident girls.

Be a good role model. Don’t forget the impact you have on your daughter as primary role model. Exercise, eat healthy and don’t be obsessed with dieting, sizes and weight. Your level of assertiveness will either support or undermine your daughter’s confidence. If you make a mistake, own it! Be kind to yourself and gentle with others, and let your daughter bear witness to all of these moments.

Explain the difference between fantasy and reality. It is most likely that she is going to love fairy tales which may include a knight saving the princess. Be sure to add some real world perspectives. Ask your child: “What do you think happens to Snow White after she gets married?” or “What will Ariel be doing in five years?”  This will go a long way to put fantasy in perspective, she will realise that she doesn’t have to depend on a man to “rescue” her. Point out that Cinderella is not real, and that school, friends and activities are real.

1. Change your vocabulary

Use the word “smart” from the very beginning. Whether she is identifying her nose or doing algebra; telling her she’s smart will sink in and one day she will know it’s the truth. Point out female role models. Take any chance you can to tell your daughter that women can be much, much more than thin and pretty.

2. Start team sports early

Research shows that girls participating in team sports have higher self-esteem.

3. Praise efforts rather than performance

Focus on the journey, not the result. Life is about falling down and getting back up. There is something to be learned in every experience.

4. Allow her a voice and a choice

Let her choose her own clothes, within limits off course. Let her have a say in the activities she wants to be involved in and how many. Give her a chance to change her mind if things don’t work out. This will give her confidence to be responsible for choices later in life.

5. Allow her to problem solve instead of problem fixing for her

Encourage skills to develop strategies. Ask her for ways to address problems and show her the possible outcomes. Encourage her to stand up for what she needs and wants. By doing so you allow her to be responsible for her decisions and actions.

6. Help her to love her looks

Explain that the world is full of girls and women with all shapes and sizes. Focus on being healthy, not being slim.

7. Compliment her for reasons outside of her looks

This will make her realize that she is worth more than what she looks like.

8. Show interest in her academics

Show up at school events and check in on homework. Talk about the future and how important this is.

9. Spend time with her

Tell her that she is beautiful and that you love her. She will feel appreciated, valued and wanted.

10. Don’t forget Dad

It’s not entirely up to mom to raise a confident young girl. How dad treats the women in his life gives your child an understanding of how men and women relate to each other. Don’t treat her as if she is fragile or helpless. Tell her that if she can dream it, she can do it!

Encourage her and love her, but most of all, enjoy her!

See more healthy living tips at the Fedhealthy blog.

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