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You know, I’ve been told that in order to achieve a happy and successful life, you must have confidence. Confidence matters just as much as ability.
I believe that.
When my daughter was in third grade, a child made fun of her for being “goofy” and “silly.”
She told my daughter that she needed to “grow up.”
Of course, this caused her to doubt herself.
I’ll never forget the day we were at the grocery store and she asked me,
“How long can I be this way? You know, myself?”
It took all of my strength to hold back my tears in the produce section as I looked at my little girl- dressed in mismatched knee socks and pig tails.
She was asking for my permission to be…herself.
So, I gave it to her.
I wonder how many girls are asking that question?
When do I have to change?
When do I have to start trying to fit in?
When do I stop raising my hand?
See, I struggle with fear and imposter syndrome.
I have all my life.
Confidence is a trait that starts in childhood and I want to set a good example for my daughters.
Self-esteem is something that is particularly important for girls, teenagers, and women.
You probably know that.
But what you may not know is just how young the confidence gap starts to form.
Let me tell you-it’s alarming.
See, according to a recent study published in the journal Science, girls begin to believe boys are more intelligent at six years of age.
In first grade, girls start thinking brilliance is a male trait.
Perhaps it’s because of the lack of genius character models in books or TV?
Even worse-the explanation could be a 2014 report from Google that reported American parents searched “Is my son a genius” twice as often as they Googled “Is my daughter a genius?”
Parents googled “Is my daughter overweight?” 70 percent more than “Is my son overweight?”
Oh, by the way, boys tend to be more obese than girls and girls do have more of a natural ability to do well in school. But ya don’t see those facts reflected in the search engine’s history.
Now, I really don’t want to scare you, but here I go…
Your daughter’s self-esteem is going to start plummeting at a high rate around fourth or fifth grade, and it’s going to continue to drop.
By the time she enters high school, it will have fallen 3.5 times more than boys.
Experts suggest the cause is a combination of parenting, media, and school.
As a mom and a woman, these statistics make me angry.
No. I take that back. I’m furious, but you know what?
Talking about the problem isn’t going to help our daughters.
This list will.
9 Secrets of Moms Who Raise Confident Girls
- Ban Bossy
Think about this.
When a little boy asserts himself, he is called a “leader.”
When a little girl does the same, she risks being branded as “bossy.”
Words like bossy send a message:
Don’t raise your hand or speak up.
By middle school, girls are less interested in leading than the boys-a trend that continues into adulthood.” –Ban Bossy Campaign
Moms who raise confident girls know that bossy isn’t wrong.
Bossy is a leadership trait.
We are sending mixed messages when we tell our daughters to be lead only to call them out for bossing others.
Have you ever called out your son for being bossy?
Have you ever heard someone refer to a boy as bossy?
2. Don’t lead with pretty
Moms who raise confident girls compliment their daughters often, but they don’t always start with looks.
They praise their daughter’s intelligence, creativity, and talent in addition to or in place of “you’re so beautiful.”
3. Let Her Do It
A mother’s instinct tells her to intervene, but if you ever want your daughter to become a self-sufficient adult, you have to let her do things on her own.
For younger kids, this means letting your little girl explore on the playground without you hovering protectively over her chanting “be careful.”
Moms who raise confident daughters let them take risks and let them fail because they understand this is how children learn.
Older kids and teens can mow the yard, cook dinner or do the family shopping-all by themselves.
Hand over your list of errands for the day and give your teenager the chance to show you what they can do.
These activities allow our girls to gain experience and skills, contribute to the family, and build confidence in themselves.
Have you ever heard of teacup parenting?
Look, there is an entire generation of little teacup children who can’t do anything for themselves.
Parents are even doing their job searches after college graduation, because they can’t do anything on their own!
4. Don’t Discount Her Emotions
Moms of confident girls validate their daughter’s feelings.
They don’t tell their teens that they are over reacting or being dramatic because they know that it send their daughter a message- what she’s feeling isn’t important.
That serves as a crushing blow to her self-esteem.
You don’t have to agree with everything she says or feels as long as you recognize her emotions with empathy.
5. Discuss What’s on TV (Or Netflix)
Moms of confident girls make use of the pause button on the remote control and discuss what they are watching on TV.
Are all of the “smart” characters men or boys?
They ask their daughters how that makes them feel. They discuss gender stereotyping. We do that here at my house all the time. My husband jokes that it takes us two hours to watch a thirty minute show because we talk so much!
6. Don’t Raise A “People Pleaser”
These mothers teach their daughters to be polite and respectful, but not if it costs them to compromise their values.
Anea Bogue, MA, author (9 Ways We Are Screwing Up Our Girls And How We Can Stop) advises parents to “Create opportunities for her to use her voice “Ask ‘What do you want?’ Let her make a choice and then honor that choice.”
7. Encourage Team Sports
According to research, girls who play team sports have higher self-esteem and a better body image.
Girls who play team sports also have less chance developing depression or anxiety. Researchers have also found that exercising seems to play a role in increasing self-worth.
8. Focus on the Effort
Mary Rooney, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist who specializes in adolescents advises; “Focus less on the outcome and more on efforts and the development of new skills,” says Dr. Rooney.
Mastery is what builds confidence, and learning to tolerate failure fosters resilience.
I’ll break it down for you.
Mothers of confident girls applaud the effort, not A’s.
They listen to their daughters when they talk about their school day and what their interests are inside and outside of the classroom.
9. Do Tell Her She Has Your Love And Support
No matter what age range your daughter falls into, she needs to hear she has your love and support.
Moms who raise girls with confidence don’t wait for a report card, performance, or home run to celebrate their daughters.
They understand that if they wait for an occasion they are sending their daughters a dangerous message. The daughters of these women know they don’t have to jump through hoops or earn love and affection-they always have it.