As much as we’d like to think otherwise, there’s still a lot of disparity between men and women, as last year’s #MeToo campaign exhibited, and the continued gender pay gap highlights.
Let’s bring up our girls to be as strong, powerful and assertive as they can be! Try a few these methods for nurturing your girl into an autonomous, influential woman.
1. Praise her character and behaviour – not her looks
For far too long girls have been told their value is in how they look, but it’s how they know themselves, interact with the world, pursue their interests and treat others that matters more.
2. Set expectations
Expect big things of her — because all girls are capable of brilliant things!
You could snaffle a copy of Good Night Stories For Rebel Girls or listen to their new podcast of the same name. Make sharing inspiring and exciting accomplishments super easy and fun.
3. Listen to her carefully
If you want your daughter to be heard when she heads out into the world, it’s important to value her thoughts and ideas and worries from day dot (‘cause goodness knows us ladyfolk have many of them!). Listen actively and thoughtfully and show your little girl that her voice counts.
4. Rejoice in her individuality
While it can be tempting to encourage your child to ‘fit in’, teaching them to be themselves and be proud of their uniqueness is an excellent way to build resilience, foster acceptance and self-awareness.
5. Encourage critical thinking and the truth
It’s so important that both girls and boys learn to question the frantic flow of information they’ll encounter. Start early, examining what’s right in front of you and encouraging your child to ask questions and seek accurate answers.
6. Censor mainstream media
While there are lots of great messages and discoveries to be had in mainstream media, they’re snuggled up next to confusing messages about all kinds of things — from perfection to size to sexuality to lifestyle. Keep your kiddo as far away from this messaging for as long as possible and continue to promote and reinforce that critical thinking from an early age.
7. Teach her about her remarkable body
The obsession with body size is impacting pretty terribly on young people, so begin an alternative dialogue as early as possible. Talk about how the human body works, encourage her to use her body to do fun things, and focus on feeling strong and healthy in the body she has (not ‘looking healthy’).
8. Provide her with brilliant role models
Perhaps they are people in your life, perhaps they are people you can seek out or perhaps they are heroes of the past? Or maybe it’s all of the above? The important thing is to look for clever people who are doing interesting things and to talk to your daughter about that.
9. Avoid gendered language or promoting stereotypes
It can be very easy to let outdated stereotypes and perceptions sneak into life, so check this from the get-go. Don’t place limitations on your daughter or others. Allow her to develop as an individual in the world, never assuming that you know how her character, gender or sexuality (or anyone else’s) will define her or how she interacts with others. Let her lead the way and learn from her.
Listen to Kinderling Conversation:
10. Foster her passions and interests
Expose your daughter to all kinds of people, places and interests and watch for sparks of curiosity that might indicate a future passion. Don’t let your own interests define hers, simply because it feels familiar and easy. Learn, adventure and discover new things that interest her together, led by her.
11. Share strategies for expressing emotions
From a very early age you can help your child to label emotions and talk about feelings. Not only will this promote self-awareness and help her handle what life throws at her, it will help her better understand and communicate with others.
Big feelings can be really tricky to cope with, so finding ways to moderate them as they veer out of control is vital.
12. Stop shopping as a form of entertainment
Consumerism as entertainment is sometimes a fall back for busy families, but this can limit more diverse interests and also impact her financial future (and yours). Set a good example by shopping mindfully and pay attention to the messages you might be sending her about money and/or identity when you buy stuff.
13. Spend screen free time together
We all try to do this, but as social media becomes more and more toxic it’s an ace idea to be seen spending less time on your device. Kids very often think their parents’ phones are as important as they are, so send a more accurate message to your daughter — and engage with her more deeply — from an early age.
14. Explore your local community together
While we often focus on our own achievements, some great perspective can be gleaned by seeing what other people in your neighbourhood are doing — and how they are supporting one another. It would be wonderful to have a village to rely on and discovering your own is the first step towards this (and also towards showing your daughter community is very important).
15. Guide her in setting goals and working towards them
From an early age, you can teach you daughter to define simple steps and achieve an outcome. It could be learning a skill or completing a task but showing her that big things can be broken down into small achievable steps will serve her well as she grows up and achieves big (or smaller) things!
16. Help her understand she’s her OWN soulmate
So often we tell our kids they are half of some future perfect match and life will fall into place when they find ‘the one’. Help your daughter feel confident enough in herself that finding her Prince or Princess Charming is not what matters most. Knowing herself, being strong, compassionate and inquiring and being her very own soulmate are the goal (rather than finding someone else to “complete her”.) Teach her this!
17. Check in as a parent
And lastly, make sure that as a parent YOU stay curious and check in with yourself and your child very regularly! It’s easy to get stuck in a rut, but much better to be inquiring, adaptable and adventurous — for you AND to model a great example for your strong girl!
This article was originally published on Babyology.
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