How to raise confident girls! (And boys too!) 9 tips.
Sugar and spice and all things nice... Girls and boys are made of the same things. But as they grow up, they do not always have the same challenges to face. Well-intentioned parents can also at times be unwitting participants to lowering their little girls' confidence. (Yes, we understand that we need parenting tips for both sexes, but it's about raising girls this time, so we are focusing more on raising strong daughters!)
Confidence can be encouraged, states expert opinion, even in the face of a world that seems intimidating to little girls and tells them not to be loud, not be bossy, behave as girls should and gifts them gender specific items, all very helpfully.
This may lead to girls being nudged into specified careers as they believe this is what they would be better at. This also leads them to demand less from their careers and their partners. They become risk averse as they do not want to fail. And if they do fail, they often are unsure of how to recover from that failure. It has been seen that women will not apply for a position unless they fulfill all the qualifications, while men will apply even if they do not.
So how can you nurture confidence in your little girls?
1. Let her choose what and how to play. Soccer is as good as drawing and painting as is climbing trees. While shopping, opt for gender neutral toys and gender neutral baby clothes. Avoid those that are marketed as 'toys for girls'. Apply the same rules of risk and failure to your daughter as you would to your son. Refrain from mouthing the words "girls do not do this or that." If it is risky for girls, it is risky for boys too!
2. Draw her out of her comfort zone. Often kids will see what is going on around them, what is expected of them, and do it.. even do it well. So if she is good at drawing let her continue art also ask her to get into the school play. Maybe try swimming or soccer. Comfort zones are not conducive to growth.
3. Remove the fear of failure. Help her make a worst case scenario list if she is worried about failure. Falling off a bike is natural and normal. Being afraid to go under water in the pool is normal. So is feeling a little nervous about being on a high swing or climbing a tree. But unless you do it unsupervised and without the proper equipment like helmets, it's not a risk you should avoid. Similarly for slightly older kids: what can happen if you forget the words at a poetry recitation? Or if you are not the star of your school play? It is not the end of the road. Tell your daughter that and raise her to be a fearless girl.
4. Help her plan and execute better. If she tries something new and succeeds that will give her a great boost, but if she fails, help her rally around. Help her plan it in a better way, so it has a better outcome the next time.
5. Go easy on the ups and downs. As parents, we are rooting for success for our child at all times. So the first person who needs to embrace the ups and downs and show confidence is you. Which leads us to our next tip.
6. Be a role model. As always, be what you wish your child to be. As they say, strong mothers and fathers beget strong daughters and sons! Even the youngest of kids observe and learn. As they get older, take yourself out of your comfort zone and they will know that it is safe to do so. Take up something new. They will too. Share your failure stories with them. For instance, an anecdote on how you fell off the bike will give them the confidence to try itself themselves without worrying about being laughed at for falling off.
7. Connect to other good role models. Show girls who they can aspire to be. Tell them stories of women who did things that were unexpected with great success. From Sania Mirza to Saina Nehwal or Mary Kom and JK Rowling, many role models live life on their terms. Maybe even someone from among family and friends?
Have you heard about these 9 unusual Indian women who broke all the rules and blazed unique paths? Read the blog and share their tales with your little one!
8. Teach them to say no when required. Learning when and how to say 'No' is a skill that most of us neglect to teach our children. Often because we do not know how to do it ourselves! How many moms take on more and more on their plates and end up neglecting themselves? So teach them when it is okay to say no, politely but firmly.
9. Let them know their self-worth. Self-esteem comes from self-worth. Telling them what is good about them is as important as picking up on their flaws and correcting them. Acts of kindness and compassion, politeness, good behavior, time spent reading, writing, cultivating a hobby are all praiseworthy. Be realistic, however. It will help them gauge their actions lifelong.
Gender stereotypes create more stereotypical behavior and eat into confidence. Let children choose to play with what they will, and how they will. Choose what they want to pursue or not. Our job is to ensure a safe environment and encourage them to be the best they can be! For now, pledge to let your girls (and boys) chase any rainbow they wish to!
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