Having the opportunity to raise a young woman is such a gift and can be incredibly joyful at times, while also extremely challenging. Finding the delicate balance of empowering our daughters to be bold and confident — while also teaching them to be compassionate, kind, and empathetic — can be tough middle ground to hit. To have success with this, empowering them is key!
Use these 5 tips for reframing everyday interactions so your daughter can grow up feeling empowered, strong, and confident!
When she’s crying: Teach her to look to her feelings. Instead of telling her to not cry, acknowledge her upset and ask her how she’s feeling. Teaching your daughter to have emotional intelligence leads her to understand her own feelings and how to move through them with integrity vs. judging or hiding them.
When she’s being bossy: Instead of telling her it’s bad, acknowledge that she has a strong and healthy desire to be in charge and she needs to practice doing it respectfully. Then roleplay! Have her practice with dolls, stuffed animals, and other toys what it looks like to be pushy and then re-do the situation to practice what it looks like to lead with integrity (ask questions, make suggestions, say please and thank you, practice patience, etc.).
When she’s down on her body: A girl will hear about her looks all of her life. Use this as an opportunity to emphasize a part of her that is strong. If she’s a swimmer, talk about her strong arms. If she loves to dance, emphasize how graceful she is. Help your daughter learn how to shift her thoughts to strength instead of doubt and perfection.
When she’s upset at a friend during a playdate: Don’t jump to the rescue. Remind her that you have her back but she is strong enough to tell her friend when she doesn’t like a certain behavior. Doing this engages your daughter's critical thinking skills and helps her to get creative with her problem solving. Allow her to have times of “messy problem solving” with her friends and then use the situations to brainstorm afterward how things could be done differently next time.
When she’s pushing all your buttons: Don’t take away your love or tell her she’ll get treats when she’s “good.” Your daughter (every child, really) needs to know that she is always innately “good” and that you will always love her, no matter what mistakes she makes. Practice unconditional love in your home and teach all of your children that mistakes don’t define them, but they are simply opportunities to learn. Explain that your full-hearted love is something they can always count on no matter what kind of day they have. This sense of deep belonging creates an inner-strength inside that ALL of our kids need and deserve!
Remember, your kids are always going to challenge you; it’s part of their healthy development. Look at times of push-back or imperfect behavior as areas that still need work and then use it as a teaching opportunity. All kids, especially girls, NEED to feel unconditional love in order to take risks. Taking risks is something we want our girls to do when they stand up for good, speak out against injustices, and think outside the box with new solutions to the big problems we face in our families, communities, and the world!
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Wendy Snyder is the founder of www.FreshStartFamilyOnline.com and a Positive Parenting teacher and family coach. Her mission is to help families parent with greater purpose and intention by creating healthy, respectful, and cooperative relationships. She is a Certified Parent Educator of Redirecting Children’s Behavior (RCB), The Joy of Parenting (JOP), and Jesus Guided Parenting (JGP), and an advocate for families.