Heaping Cup of Personal Power
Allow your daughter to feel that she has control over things that happen to her. Let her have a voice in making decisions. Whenever possible, let her make constructive choices about her life. Let her choose her own clothes, within appropriate limits. Give her a voice in what after-school activities she participates in and how many she wants to do (as long as it works for the rest of the family, too). When parents trust girls to make decisions, girls internalize the message that they are capable.
Development of Sense of Purpose
Girls need to feel that their life has a purpose. Girls need to discover and nurture their sparks! (Sparks refers to the intrinsic interests, talents, and passions that young people have that motivate them to learn, grow, and contribute to society.)
The Search Institute research shows that youth who thrive have two important supports: knowledge of what their sparks are and adults who support the development of those sparks. Full engagement with an activity she loves will give her the opportunity to master challenges, which will boost her self-esteem and resilience and affirm intrinsic values rather than appearance,” says Rachel Simmons, author of Odd Girl Out and Enough As She Is.
Family Values and Role Modeling
What traits and strengths do you want your daughter to develop as she grows? Are these qualities are reflected in how you parent? Do you have clear boundaries and reasonable expectations? Do you model self-acceptance and appreciation or are you constantly criticizing and degrading yourself?
Encourage her to solve issues on her own
rather than fixing things for her.
When parents take over, girls don’t develop the coping skills they need to handle situations on their own. Ask your daughter to consider three strategies she might use to deal with a situation, and then ask her about the possible outcomes. Let her decide what she wants to do (within reason). Even if you disagree with her choice, you give your daughter a sense of control over her life and show her that she is responsible for her decisions. Mistakes create growth and awareness, not to mention opportunities for discussion. Our daughters need to be prepared for life’s bumpy road. Don’t try and pave the road for them!!
Encourage her to take physical risks.
“Girls who avoid risks have poorer self-esteem than girls who can and do face challenges,” says JoAnn Deak, Ph.D., author of Girls Will Be Girls. “Urge your daughter to go beyond her comfort zone — for example, encourage a girl who’s scared to ride her bike downhill to find just a small hill to conquer first.” Catherine Steiner-Adair, Ed.D., co-author of Full of Ourselves: A Wellness Program to Advance Girl Power, Health and Leadership, agrees. “It’s important to help even non-athletic girls develop some physical competence and confidence when they’re young. Whether it’s through team or individual sports, girls need to form a physical relationship with their body that builds confidence.”
Allow her to disagree with you and get angry.
Raising a powerful girl means living with one. She must be able to stand up to you and be heard, so she can learn to do the same with classmates, teachers, a boyfriend, or future bosses. Help girls to make considered choices about how to express their feelings, and to whom.
Listen more than
Allow your daughter the time and freedom to discuss what’s on HER mind. It may seem trivial or unimportant to you, but acknowledging her feelings will lead to increased dialogue and openness when the important/difficult issues arise.
Help her process
the messages in the media.
By helping your daughter process the messages she sees on the screen and develop her own ideas about them, you can prepare her to better resist the media’s pervasive stereotypes. The media is selling young people the idea that girls’ and women’s value lies in their youth, beauty, and sexuality and not in their capacity as leaders. Boys learn that their success is tied to dominance, power, and aggression. We must value people as whole human beings, not gendered stereotypes.