As anyone who has tried to be Superwoman knows, it can be tough to be a girl no matter what age you are.
Today, girls see images of strong, powerful women CEOs and politicians, as well as images of women who are admired and financially compensated solely for how they look. For a young girl, the two visions of ideal womanhood are tough to reconcile. As parents, our goal is to raise girls who realize that being a woman is about being smart, powerful, attractive and well-rounded. The way to do that is to instill self-confidence in our girls so they can embrace and love whatever kind of woman they are.
Psychologist (and mother) Deborah Nelson Ph.D., and Dissertation Chair, at Northcentral University offers her Top Five Tips for Instilling Confidence in Girls:
- Recognize and support realistic and feasible choices where appropriate. For younger girls, this might be allowing them to pick out what color top or pants to wear to school. As girls get older, they can decide which of their chores to do first or which homework to complete first. These small choices help girls to experience the positive, and or negative consequences, of choices they make.
- Encourage initiative taking. Confidence comes from being able to see that her actions can make a difference.
- Facilitate dialogue. Take some dedicated time each day to dialogue and talk.As busy as all of us are, we often forget how affirming it is to have someone just listen to her.
- Provide specific praise and feedback on effort. One of the most effective ways to build confidence is to provide specific praise and feedback on effort. Research suggests that specific praise attached to effort, not outcomes, produces the best results.For example, don’t praise the A on her spelling test, instead say, “you did all of your homework every night this week and made sure to ask questions when you did not understand. You worked hard and that is why you did well on your spelling test.”
- Model healthy relationships. Mothers should take time for self-care, have a strong network of quality women friends and not put themselves down about their weight or their looks.
Here are 5 More Ideas for Instilling Confidence in Girls:
- Encourage her to pursue her interests: Let her be her, even if you loved tennis and she’d rather play soccer. The important thing isn’t what the passion is, it’s that she has a passion.
- Play Ball: Sports build confidence. It also shows your daughter that a healthy body isn’t just window dressing, it allows her to do what she wants to do.
- Downplay the Disney: Little girls like princesses, but that kind of woman only exists in fairy tales. Talk to her about the differences between real women and fairy princesses. By toning down the princess, you can focus your young girl’s attention on things besides beauty, femininity and being rescued by a prince.
- Real Heroes: Point out women who you admire to your daughter. It can be a famous female sports star, business executive or Grandma. Talk about what makes these women admirable and remind your daughter that she can be anything she wants to be.
- Spread the Compliments: Girls get complimented for being cute or on their pretty dress from the time they are babies, so it’s no surprise that they equate how they look with positive feedback. Make a conscious effort to not only tell her she’s pretty but that she’s smart, has a great smile or looks full of joy when she does something she loves.