Every parent wants to raise immensely strong daughters. We want to empower our girls to become who they’re meant to be with strength and confidence, hopefully inspiring others to be strong, too. The bumpy road of raising girls in our world makes it challenging, but any parent can foster confidence and strength within their daughter with a few simple tools. Keep in mind, empowering your daughter isn’t a one-time conversation – it’s a lifetime of conversations. It’s about talking and sharing and always listening to your daughter’s thoughts and ideas so she knows she matters and that she has a voice.
Here are 10 things we need to teach our girls so they grow up to be strong, empowered and resilient.
1. IT’S OKAY TO SET BOUNDARIES: LEARN TO SAY “NO”
Whether it’s saying “no” to an evening out with friends because they need time to regroup after a long week or they say “no” to a guy they’re dating who’s interested in moving a little too fast, our daughters need to know that “no” is a powerful word that should be part of their vocabulary. No guilt. Just “no.” (Sure, depending on the situation, they can soften the “no” by saying things like, “I would love to meet up but I really need to chill out tonight. Can we get together next week instead?” or “You know I’m crazy about you, but I’m just not ready for that.”)
Teach your daughter that it’s not only okay to put herself and her needs first, it’s also necessary for her to maintain her physical and mental health.
2. YOU CAN GET YOUR POINT ACROSS AND STILL BE KIND
Your girls should know that they have a right to voice their opinions, but it can be done with grace, humility, kindness and an open mind. It’s never okay to degrade or humiliate others simply because they have a difference of opinion. How do our girls achieve this level of strength? Through us! As parents, our girls need to witness us in action. Sprinkle kindness everywhere while standing firm in your morals, values and opinions.
3. HOLD TIGHT TO YOUR OPINION WHILE LISTENING TO OTHERS
Truly listening to the thoughts, ideas, opinions and suggestions of others is the key to building long-lasting, solid relationships. Not listening with the intent to retort or interject with your opinions, but rather, listening to understand. Strong parents teach their daughters to embrace the opinions of others so it can broaden their minds and allow more space for wisdom. It doesn’t mean abandoning your own opinions. It’s about embracing the idea that other people have thoughts that are equally as important as theirs.
4. IT’S OKAY TO WALK AWAY FROM TOXIC PEOPLE & SITUATIONS
Let’s face it, women are “typically” the people-pleasers. The ones who stick it out no matter how tough the situation gets. The ones who strive to make peace even when chaos surrounds them. But you should teach your daughters to be different. They need to know that it’s okay to walk away from an unhealthy situation, unsafe environment or toxic person. They don’t have to “ride it out” or try to make things better. It’s not their job to fix others or spend countless hours pondering someone’s words or behaviour. There are plenty of people in this world to fulfill their lives. They don’t need to waste precious time on those who drain them of their energy, enthusiasm or spirit. And they most certainly should waste no time in removing themselves from a situation in which they sense any potential for danger.
5. NEVER VALUE YOUR WORTH ON COMMENTS, LIKES OR THUMBS UPS
When so much of our daughters’ lives encompasses the use of technology and social media, it’s all too easy for them to get caught up in the flurry of fake realism often holding themselves to an unrealistic standard that chips away at their self-esteem.
Let’s teach our daughters to see social media for what it is… sheer entertainment. Sure, they can post pics on Instagram, scroll through TikTok videos and Snapchat with friends, but they need to remember that so much of what they see on social media isn’t real and that their beauty (both internal and external) and value should never be defined by likes, comments or thumbs-ups. Let’s shout this from the rooftops for all of our girls to hear, absorb and live with confidence.
This will not only protect them emotionally navigating the world with their peers, but will form a strong protective layer against online predators.
6. TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS
This is easily the most profound lessons we teach girls from a very young age. Listening to and trusting that little voice in their head ranges from whether they should hop in the car with someone they don’t know very well to questioning major decisions. Our daughters need to know that their instincts are there to protect them and that they speak volumes. They HAVE to learn to listen closely and not overthink it. When they get that feeling in their gut that tells them something isn’t right, it typically isn’t. Just trust it!
7. TAKE RISKS… FAILURE IS YOUR FRIEND
Of course, we want to shelter and discourage our girls from taking unnecessary, dangerous risks. But we also need to give them gentle nudges to try life on for size. Does she want to hike a mountain? Encourage her. Does she want to try surfing? Encourage her. Does she want to travel abroad or take a gap year or die her hair purple? Encourage her. Does she want to learn self defence? Definitely encourage THAT!!!
Trying things that are hard or uncomfortable for our girls or things that they might even fail miserably at is a good thing! Letting them explore exactly who they are is a good thing! It teaches them how to overcome obstacles. It teaches them resilience. It teaches them to not take themselves so seriously. It teaches them that who they are today doesn’t mean they have to be the same person tomorrow… they’re in control of their own life! It teaches them to be strong. And if those skills happen to involve any form of self defence, then of course it also makes them safer and more capable to handle the risks of life in general.
8. HOLD A HAND OUT TO OTHER GIRLS
How do we teach our girls to reach out and lift other girls up? By modelling it, plain and simple. Teach your daughter to be good to their friends and other girls, to support them when they’re down, to look out for them, and to cheer the loudest when they win. Teach them that there’s no room for envy, jealousy or “mean girl” tendencies in beautiful, authentic friendships. THIS is how we’ll empower our girls to be stronger than ever. It’s also how we’ll help to protect other girls and to ensure that OUR girls are protected from anyone who may mean them harm, as there is truly no better security guard in life than a friend by your side looking out for you.
9. BE YOUR OWN PERSON
This may be harder on some days than other days and there will certainly be times in our daughter’s life when she doesn’t know exactly who she is and questions who she’s becoming. But there’s nothing more beautiful (and inspiring) than a girl who wraps her arms around herself and screams to the world, “I’m ME!”
The earlier we begin encouraging our girls to be true to themselves (no matter who they are on that given day) and to not follow the crowd, the more confident they’ll become as they evolve into young women. This will not only help them achieve what they want from life, but significantly insulate them from the sights of a predator. This is because predators target the weak; they look for the unsure, the lonely, the fragile, the vulnerable. Don’t let your daughter look, feel or be a victim. If she can be her own person, she is already halfway there.
10. LOVE YOURSELF DEARLY
Being their own person is a good start, but it’s also vital that we teach our daughters to love the person staring back at them in the mirror. Not just her outer beauty, but her inner beauty. With all her beautiful imperfections, mistakes she’s made and even that ugly zit on their chin, our girls need to learn to embrace who they are. Of course, it’s easier said than done, but if they see us loving our flawed selves, we’ll be teaching our daughters to do the same. We’ll also be teaching them of their incredible value in this world, and how very important they are as an individual. This will help them fight for their own safety, security and happiness throughout life, so no matter what happens, they get home safely to their family and friends at the end of the day. Every day.
So parents, let’s make a promise to ourselves and our daughters… we will continue to model each and every day what it truly means to be an authentically strong and capable woman. Let’s equip her with the love, skills and confidence to do so. Because more than anything, that’s how our girls will learn to be powerful women.
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