Growing confident girls is difficult as stereotypes around girls and women are everywhere. They are so infused into society, that reactions to them are the norm. If a girl is assertive, she’s labeled as “bossy.” If she cries over something she’s passionate about, she’s “emotional.” If she gets angry, she must be having her period.
Now it’s time to break through those stereotypes and raise a different generation. One in which little girls grow up to be strong, confident women who don’t use stereotypes as a crutch, but rather crush them so they’re all but forgotten.
It starts at home. We need to ensure we send the right messages to our girls and give them the freedom and confidence to make the right decisions–all while being true to themselves.
Here are some ways to instill confidence in your own girls, no matter how old they are. The important thing is that you start now.
Show interest in her interests.
Whether it’s academics or basket weaving, knowing a trusted and loved adult is interested in what she’s passionate about speaks volumes for your daughter. Find out more about what she loves so you can have meaningful conversations about it aside from her just regurgitating information.
Ask her questions.
Asking meaningful questions about your daughter’s interests shows her that you want to be involved. It also shows your daughter that what she does is important. Make sure your questions require more than a simple “Yes” or “No” answer and dive deeper into the why and how of what she’s passionate about.
Expose her to a variety of experiences.
Throw the stereotypical “boy” and “girl” experiences aside and expose your daughter to activities outside gender-based limitations. Take her rock climbing, to the shooting range, fishing, weight lifting or to a football game. Having a wide range of interests and experiences builds depth of character and gives girls a wider range of vocabulary and background to develop enthusiasm for different hobbies.
Show her you believe in her.
Everyone needs to have someone believe in them. When your daughter expresses a desire to do something new, support her. When she’s taking a risk, be there for her. Tell her and show her that you believe in her and that you have confidence in anything she puts her mind to.
Encourage her to be active.
Physical strength does wonders for resilience, emotional strength and confidence. Help your daughter find a physical activity that she loves and encourage her to pursue it. Spend time with her outside and be active with her, showing her the power of teamwork and pursuing her own interests.
Let her fail.
Children don’t grow up to be successful, confident adults when their parents come to the rescue. When the going gets tough, let her figure it out. They learn through the lessons of failure and having the perseverance to pick themselves up and try again (or dealing with the consequences of failure). Stop and think before coming to the rescue and give your daughter an opportunity to problem-solve and come to her own rescue.
Girls today are growing up in an era where they have so many more opportunities to grow and be successful–as long as we’re able to push the stereotypes aside and let them grow to who they were meant to be. Your daughter can grow to be a confident and successful woman–with the right guide by her side. Be that guide and that positive example.