I am the daughter of a mother, and sister to two teenage girls. I have always considered myself lucky. I truly believe my mother and stepfather did an amazing job raising us, and I’m not just saying that in a way of “they did their best,” but in a way as even as a child I appreciated everything. My mother constantly put our needs in front of hers, and instilled that family was our number one priority.
Now being a mother of two little girls myself, I’m facing a world that constantly puts down women and girls, facing a world where I am still trying to instill confidence in myself. How can I instill confidence in my girls? Why do they even need me to do it? Because I will be the first, and no one else will. They do have their father and I believe that the father also has his role, but I believe it is my job as their mother to be an example and show them true confidence that they already have in themselves.
1. You Can Become Anything
One thing I learned from my mother, and still do today, is that you can do anything. Teach your girls that anything truly is possible. I wanted to play piano, my parents came home with a piano. I wasn’t sure if I could sing in front of a crowd, my mother signed me up for the school talent show. It’s not a question of just telling these girls that they can do anything they want, it’s also about giving them the tools to make their dreams a reality. Truly and I were watching the Disney Channel where a little boy was an amazing soccer player.
She looked at me and said, “I bet I can run faster than him.”
“I’m sure you could if you practiced, it’s hard work” I told her.
The next day we bought her a $5 soccer ball and went to work.
Tell your daughters the world is theirs, but give it to them too.
2. Don’t Let Another Person’s Negativity Affect You
Like every other girl growing up, we dealt with bullies or people who were just plain mean for no reason. The truth is, your daughter is going to meet these people too. Even if they seem like they love school, love their friends, love their lives, you need to make sure they are ready for when those group of people want to gang up on your darling girl.
Take the time to let your daughter know how beautiful she is, smart she is, and friendly she is. Get to know her friends, her teacher, and her classroom. Tell her how much her friends love her, her siblings love her, and how much God loves her. Let her know that when someone isn’t nice to her or doesn’t like her, that that is okay, because this long list of people that do love her, is the one that counts.
Teach her that being mean back won’t make her feel better and that stooping down to their level just makes you like them. Teach her to go get help if she feels attacked and bullied.
Most importantly, instill in your daughter that laughing off remarks about her is a great weapon, because that girl in the mirror is amazing.
3. Extracurricular Activities
The main thing I like about getting girls involved in sports, dance, and other activities is not only do they learn how to be a team player, but they can also learn how to be a leader. The last thing I want to do is spend my afternoons driving around the kids to all their different practices and games, but I do believe that being in an environment where you can meet new friends and have fun, is great for building confidence. The way you find balance is in putting them in activities only they are truly interested in, and that you have time for. No more than 2 activities at a time, and nothing that makes you miss dinner at the table.
Truly started school this year. She has been in ballet class for the past 3 years, since she was 2, but in addition to that we added cheerleading and soccer. Cheerleading is great because it is at her school, right after school in the gym, and with Soccer, it’s a real low maintenance team with the YMCA. Trying to talk her out of any one of these was impossible.
One of the most important things though, is don’t just be a spectator, get involved! Become an assistant coach, jump in with the girls during their practice laps, or help the teacher pass out flyers. These girls need to see that you want to be involved and invested in what they want to do.
Some other tips:
- Use bedtime as a way to ask your daughter Who she looks up to, What makes her special, What is she afraid of, and What to do if she is bullied
- Volunteer once a week or once a month in her school
- Spend at least 15 minutes everyday doing something she wants to do: manicures, painting, woodcarving
- Use plenty of praise words: That was very smart of you! I couldn’t have done that with out you!