Give your girl child the right shoe and she can conquer the world no matter how bad it sinks
Bringing up daughters is complicated: Empowerment messages and impressive achievements are everywhere, yet depression and anxiety are very real threats. This is how to help your daughter become her best, well-rounded self in spite of it all.
Girls usually start off life at full steam. They’re the early talkers, the social (“Do your best – but don’t draw too much attention to yourself,” “You can be anything you want to be – but looking pretty is your top priority”) can cause girls to fall behind academically or lose their spark
Here’s what you can do to build your daughter’s confidence and resilience for the tricky years ahead:
Teach your daughter to express her needs to adults and stand her ground with her peers. If another child is being mean to her, encourage her to say “I don’t like the way you’re talking to me.”
Be specific in your compliments.
When you tell your daughter how smart she is, it means much more if you use concrete examples. Tell her “You have a really good memory” or “Boy, you sure know your dinosaurs.”
A third-grader will know that she’s not a musical genius or the best artist on the planet, but she’ll appreciate it if you notice her improvement from one month to the next.
Explain to her she must not be accepted by everyone
Explain to your daughter that if she isn’t invited to every birthday party or to join every jump-rope game it’s not meant to be an insult. Explain that when another child says “You can’t be my friend,” it probably has more to do with that child’s bad mood or different character which doesn’t match hers; it doesn’t have anything to do with her self-esteem
Don’t be too quick to help your daughter with homework or chores. If she asks for help, ask her to try working through it for a couple more minutes on her own first.
Encourage her to play sports if she wants to
Girls have more sporty options than ever before. If she wants to do gymnastics or play football, give her a chance to get in the game and find out what she’s capable of. Don’t decide which sports are right for her – she can figure it out herself.
Don’t make assumptions about her strengths and weaknesses.
Just because your child is a girl doesn’t mean she’ll struggle with fractions – or that she’ll ace reading tests. It also doesn’t mean she won’t want to go fishing or try out for Little League. Follow her cues to best nurture her strengths and work on improving her weaknesses.
Encourage a healthy body image.
When she asks the inevitable “Am I pretty?” answer her with an enthusiastic yes. When you praise her appearance, try to highlight her actions, too: “You looked so graceful at gymnastics today” or “Your eyes really shone on the stage.”
It can also be helpful for older girls to hear that models in magazines don’t look like real girls or women and that their photographs are altered to make them look thinner and more flawless than they actually are.
Make good use of every opportunity
Reading books with strong female characters is one of the best ways to get the idea across without lecturing. If you can’t think of enough books like that, ask a librarian – they often have lists of books to choose from and can make recommendations.