It took me a long time to gain my own self-confidence. I’m almost 40 years old, and I’m still working on it, let’s be honest here. But, when I think about my own daughter and the thing I want to teach her first and foremost is to be confident. But, how do you raise a confident girl? What’s the secret?
I’m no expert, and I’m learning as I go, but I do see some sparks of confidence my girl has that I didn’t growing up. Part of that is her own personality, but I do think a parent’s role in raising her girl has a lot to do with how confident they become. Let’s just hope she doesn’t end up too confident and on a reality TV show one day. I’d love her anyway, of course.
But, here are some ideas for raising a confident girl. You’d be surprised at how simple yet, sometimes difficult they really are.
Model confidence. This is easier said than done of course, but the modeling will be remembered. Maybe the words you say won’t, but if your girl sees that you’re confident in who you are, she’s more likely to become confident herself.
Don’t talk about your body in a negative way. It’s hard not to lament to your husband, girlfriend, or mom on the phone about how you hate your thighs, or that you’ve gained five pounds. Make sure you aren’t within earshot of your girl. If you’re dieting, try to emphasize that you’re getting healthy, not trying to get skinny.
Get your daughter into sports. There is nothing that will help boost a child’s confidence quite like being on a team sport. It teaches lifelong skills and will help her feel like she’s worked hard for something and can achieve hard things.
Praise her for things other than how she looks. If we want to raise girls that aren’t focus on their appearance for self-worth, then we have to teach our girls that there are lots of other things that give them worth. Talk about her integrity, or praise her for how she helped someone. Emphasize character traits you admire in her instead of focusing on her beautiful hair or eyelashes.
Focus on efforts instead of outcomes. It’s so easy to praise a kid for an A in school, or getting first place in a competition. But, winning or being the best isn’t always what matters. Try to teach your girl that her efforts are just as important, and if she’s putting forth her best effort, then she is achieving greatness.
Limit her social media as long as possible. My daughter is almost 11 and still does not have a smartphone. I’m going to hold out as long as possible. I’d like for her to wait until she is 16 and can get a job and pay for it herself, but the truth is, she’ll probably get one sooner. But, if you can limit your daughter’s exposure to social media longer, she will not be comparing herself to girls her own age. Her own confidence will grow as a result. Watch out for movies, music, magazines and books that objectify women, too.
Speak highly of other women. The old adage that if you can’t say anything nice is meant for adults, too. Try not to talk poorly of other women. Especially of their appearance, or their shortcomings. If you talk badly about women around you, chances are your daughter will grow up doing the same thing to her friends. Teach her that building up her friends is better than tearing them down, but make sure you’re doing the same.
Focus on girl power. Help your girl feel like she can accomplish anything by giving her good female role models to look up to. This can be talking to her about women she’s learning about in school, or giving her books and movies with strong female characters. Go to the history books and talk about all the amazing women that have paved the way for her to become whatever she wants to become.
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