How to raise girls to be bold, confident women

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Growing up has always had its challenges, but it seems incomparable to the pressure facing young girls today. On top of coping with schoolwork, developing bodies, and “frenemies”, pre-teen girls are also fighting the pressure to be perfect in a world of sexting and selfies. 

These are just some of the issues author and educator Lindsay Sealey tackles in her new book, Growing Strong Girls, which gives parents tips and strategies on how to raise their daughters to become confident women. 

Establish a secure connection with your daughter
Girls, whether they are social, shy, athletic, or artistic all have one thing in common: the desire to connect. A connection is the feeling of being seen, heard, and valued without judgement or conditions, which gives girls a sense of belonging and closeness. When girls are connected, they feel safe, secure, and are kept on a path to success. Girls can’t learn when they’re anxious. A lot of parents can feel disconnected during the pre-teen years, but please note: your girls need you. 

Parents can always make the time to establish that connection; it doesn’t have to be five hours after school, just as long as it’s consistent.

Be present and available
If you’re multi-tasking, she will know and will disconnect from you. Get rid of distractions before you chat.

Ask open-ended questions
Try, “What was the best part of your day today?” instead of, “Did you have a good day?”

Plant seeds of connection
For example, before she leaves for school, say “I’m really looking forward to our chat tonight.” 

Address social media
Social media is the greatest challenge girls face today. Though it’s certainly an opportunity for connection, it’s often the source of bullying, misunderstandings, misinterpretations, drama, and disconnection for preteen girls. 

Delay
If you can, delay her venture into the world of social media, explaining she may “want” it now because all of her friends have it, but there are many unforeseen stressors.

Manage usage
If she’s already an avid user, help her manage her usage. Allocate offline time so she can take a break. Some girls are spending eight hours a day on social media, so start with balance. 

Implement guidelines
Don’t give out personal information, be kind, think before you post: these are just some examples of the guidelines you should put in place.

Handle mean girls and being bullied
Mean girls are often disconnected and lonely, and it stems from insecurity. They fall into being mean so it becomes their reputation. It’s up to parents to reach out to their daughters and teach alternative ways to connect and assert their power. Pay attention to what she’s saying when she gets home from school.

If a girl is on the receiving end of meanness, that has a huge impact on self-esteem and she will be falling behind in class. The receiving end girl doesn’t know the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships. Make sure you tell them to stand up for themselves, and how to say no without feeling bad.

Work on that connection before they’re a pre-teen
The earlier you start, the better the foundation for that connection. Focus on emotional literacy (i.e. helping them name and express feelings, which helps them feel heard and understood, but also helps with self-regulation) and building language, like positive self-talk and a limitless mindset. 

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