Little girls should know they can rule the world, if they want to — so let’s do a little check in on some of the best ways we can grow our little girls into strong and brilliant women who know their own minds.
There’s no time like the present to get started (and probably you already have) so we’ve prepared this helpful cheat sheet to keep all the wee girls on track!
1. Praise your daughter’s character and behaviour – not her appearance
For far too long, girls have been told their value is in how they look, but it’s how they know themselves, interact with the world, pursue their interests and treat others that matters more.
2. Expect big things of her – because all girls are capable of brilliant things!
You could snaffle a copy of Good Night Stories For Rebel Girls and make sharing inspiring and exciting accomplishments super easy and fun.
3. Listen to her thoughtfully
If you want your daughter to be heard when she heads out into the world, it’s important to value her thoughts and ideas and worries from day dot. Listen actively and thoughtfully and show your little girl that her voice counts.
4. Celebrate her uniqueness
While it can be tempting to encourage your child to “fit in”, teaching them to be themselves and be proud of their uniqueness is an excellent way to build resilience, foster acceptance and self-awareness.
5. Encourage her to think critically and value the truth
It’s so important that both girls and boys learn to question the frantic flow of information they’ll encounter. Start early by examining what’s right in front of you and encouraging your child to ask questions and seek accurate answers.
6. Limit her access to mainstream media
While there are lots of great messages and discoveries to be had in mainstream media, they’re snuggled up next to confusing messages about all kinds of things — from perfection to size to sexuality to lifestyle. Keep your kiddo as far away from this messaging for as long as possible and continue to promote and reinforce that critical thinking from an early age.
7. Help her learn more about her amazing and clever body
The obsession with body size is impacting pretty terribly on young people, so begin an alternative dialogue as early as possible. Talk about how the human body works, encourage her to use her body to do fun things, and focus on feeling strong and healthy in the body she has (not “looking healthy”).
8. Expose her to wonderful role models
Perhaps they are people in your life, perhaps they are people you can seek out or perhaps they are heroes of the past? Or maybe it’s all of the above? The important thing is to look for clever people who are doing interesting things and to talk to your daughter about that.
9. Avoid using gendered language or promoting stereotypes around her (or at all!)
It can be very easy to let outdated stereotypes and perceptions sneak into life, so check this from the get-go. Don’t place limitations on your daughter or others. Allow her to develop as an individual in the world, never assuming that you know how her character, gender or sexuality (or anyone else’s) will define her or how she interacts with others. Let her lead the way and learn from her.
10. Encourage your daughter to develop their own diverse interests and passions
Expose your daughter to all kinds of people, places and interests and watch for sparks of curiosity that might indicate a future passion. Don’t let your own interests define hers, simply because it feels familiar and easy. Learn, adventure and discover new things that interest her together, led by her.
11. Teach her strategies to help express her emotions
From a very early age you can help your child to label emotions and talk about feelings. Not only will this promote self-awareness and help her handle what life throws at her, it will help her better understand and communicate with others.
12. Avoid shopping as a form of entertainment
Consumerism as entertainment is sometimes a fallback for busy families, but this can limit more diverse interests and also impact her financial future (and yours). Set a good example by shopping mindfully and pay attention to the messages you might be sending her about money and/or identity when you buy stuff.
13. Spend device-free time together
We all try to do this, but as social media becomes more and more toxic it’s an ace idea to be seen spending less time on your device. Kids very often think their parents’ phones are as important as they are, so send a more accurate message to your daughter — and engage with her more deeply — from an early age.
14. Learn more about your local community together
While we often focus on our own achievements, some great perspective can be gleaned by seeing what other people in your neighbourhood are doing – and how they are supporting one another. It would be wonderful to have a village to rely on and discovering your own is the first step towards this, while also towards showing your daughter that community is very important.
15. Teach her to set goals and work towards them
From an early age, you can teach you daughter to define simple steps and achieve an outcome. It could be learning a skill or completing a task, but showing her that big things can be broken down into small achievable steps will serve her well as she grows up and achieves big (or smaller) things!
16. Help her develop strategies to deal with difficult emotions
Big feelings can be really tricky to cope with, so finding ways to moderate them as they veer out of control is vital.
17. Help her understand that she’s her OWN soulmate
So often we tell our kids they are half of some future perfect match and life will fall into place when they find “the one”. Help your daughter feel confident enough in herself that finding her Prince or Princess Charming is not what matters most. Knowing herself, being strong, compassionate and inquiring and being her very own soulmate are the goals, rather than finding someone else to “complete her”. Teach her this!
And lastly, make sure that as a parent YOU stay curious and check in with yourself and your child very regularly! It’s easy to get stuck in a rut, but much better to be inquiring, adaptable and adventurous – for you AND to model a great example for your strong girl!