7 Secrets to Raising Your Daughter to Believe in Herself
Do you wish your daughter could see herself the way you and her teachers do? Learn 7 things you can do at home to raise a girl who has the confidence and determination to do anything!
I’ve been accused more than once of being a “helicopter mom”. I wish I could argue, but it’s true! I’m the mom on the playground hovering 3 feet away from my daughter, trying to fend off a heart attack while she gleefully runs across the platforms between slides. But even when I’m imagining 36 ways she could hurt herself, I really try to keep that anxiety to myself (apart from the frantic hovering, of course). Because I would hate for my daughter to think that I don’t believe she’s capable of doing cool things.
I want to raise my daughter to be a bold, confident, successful woman. And I know you want that for your daughter too. So, let me share some of the secrets I’ve learned in my years working with teens for raising a girl who fiercely believes in herself. (Even if you’re a closet helicopter mom like me!)
1. Vary Your Compliments
It’s amazing how early we label kids, especially when they have a special gift. If your daughter is really smart, that’s probably something she’s heard all of her life. But, what would happen if she got a C? She would freak out, right? Because if she isn’t the smart girl, then who is she? (Cue premature existential crisis!) That’s something you can help her with. Make sure you’re also praising your daughter’s work ethic. Her sense of humor. Her generosity. Make sure to highlight a variety of qualities so her identity doesn’t depend on just one thing.
2. Encourage Her Crazy Dreams
Does your daughter dream of starting a non-profit in Thailand or joining one of the first crews to Mars? Hold off on telling her why these ideas are crazy (The distance! The danger!) and help her figure out how to pursue them instead. We’re usually pretty good at coming up with reasons we can’t do things. So what your daughter really needs from you is support. Encourage her to keep trying. Help her to come up with solutions. That way, even if she ultimately decides to do something else, she’ll still walk away knowing that she could have pulled it off.
3. Give Her More Responsibility
This is counter-intuitive if you have a kid who’s already overwhelmed. But giving your daughter some adult responsibilities is valuable for a few reasons. It allows her to contribute to the family. It teaches her useful skills she’ll need once she’s on her own. But more than that, assigning your daughter an important task sends the message that you trust her. Which goes a long way toward her trusting herself. Need some ideas to try? Put her in charge of dinner one night per week. Give her a list and let her do your monthly run at Costco. You could even give her a budget and let her plan your next family vacation! She might need some guidance, but parents are often impressed with how well their kids do on assignments like this.
4. Give Her More Freedom
The best way to determine how much freedom a teen can handle is to look at her behavior. If she is getting great grades, killing it on the lacrosse field, and is respectful at home, she has shown that she is responsible and can handle more freedom. It’s so hard as a parent to let go, but keeping the rope tighter than a kid needs it can really backfire. Even if your daughter isn’t the rebellious type, unnecessary restrictions send her the message that she isn’t capable of making her own decisions. And those doubts can stay with her well past childhood.
5. Don’t Solve Her Problems
It is painful to see your child struggle. But it isn’t our job as parents to shield our children from pain. Our job is to coach them through their problems so they gain the confidence to handle them on their own. Walk your daughter through the same process that you use to solve problems. Ask her what options she sees. What are the pros and cons of each? Is there anyone she can ask for advice or help? Don’t take over unless there is potential for long-term damage. Your daughter will absolutely make mistakes. But the only way for her to gain confidence in her ability to handle problems is to practice. So give her the space to do that.
6. Teach Her to Negotiate
The ability to negotiate is vital to success. But it isn’t something girls are really taught. Whether it’s over her salary, a contract, or a piece of legislation, your daughter is going to need to be able to negotiate. And to do it confidently. This is not appropriate for younger children. But for teens, the ability to argue respectfully is actually an important life skill. Yes, it is incredibly annoying to battle over curfew or the length of her shorts. But hear her out. If she (respectfully) makes legitimate points, consider a compromise or declare her victory. Allowing your daughter to disagree appropriately doesn’t teach her to disrespect you or your rules. It teaches her how to effectively influence someone in authority. And that ability will not only give her megawatt confidence, but will make her a force to be reckoned with.
7. Be Her Role Model
It is so important for us as parents to set an example by showing that we believe in ourselves too! Make sure you are also praising yourself when it’s warranted, standing up for yourself, and pursuing your own crazy dreams. Believe it or not, lots of teens look up to their parents. So if you want your daughter to be a success, make sure to set that bar high!
Does your daughter struggle with self-doubt? You can help her beat it!