As much as we may wish we could, we can’t shield our daughters from the high-pressure stresses and expectations of the real world forever. However, we can raise them with the tools to tackle life with confidence. Here are 10 things to say to your daughter to help empower her when she faces the world.
1. You’re Smart and Pretty
Your daughter is beautiful, and it’s hard not to say so often. There’s nothing wrong with complimenting her looks, but it is important to remember that she will judge herself based on what others seem to judge her by. Be a source of positive reinforcement for the good you see in her!
2. You’ve Been Working Hard
While it’s important to tell your daughter she’s smart, it’s even more important to encourage her hard work. In fact, a growing body of research shows that, contrary to what you may expect, complimenting a child’s smarts and not their work ethic leads to under-performance down the line. Praise your daughter for dedication and persistence as well as for her natural smarts, and she won’t be as discouraged when at first she does not succeed.
3. I’m Proud of You
When your daughter is young, you are her whole world, and she looks to you for approval. Recognizing when she does a good job will help her to develop a high self esteem. Whether it’s for social kindness, intellectual achievement, or physical prowess, don’t forget to tell her that you noticed her effort!
4. I’m Sorry
Everyone makes mistakes, even grown-ups. Being unafraid of apologizing and admitting when you have done something wrong sets an important example of owning up to her own mistakes. Your daughter will learn that you respect her as a person, and will be more likely to take responsibility for her own mistakes in the future.
5. Try Many Different Things
Whether she’s interested in swimming or martial arts, give your daughter the resources and encouragement to pursue many different things that interest her so she can discover what she likes.
6. I Love Myself
Your daughter will judge herself the way you judge yourself. If you pick apart your own appearance or abilities in front of her, she will notice and do the same, even if you do not hold her to the same standards. Taking pride in who you are and what you can do is not only okay, but an excellent example to your daughter!
7. You Are Kind
Childhood is the time during which empathy is developing. Rewarding selflessness now will encourage your daughter to think of others in the future.
8. It’s Okay to Say “No”
While it may seem like the opposite of discipline, it is important that your daughter learns how to assert her boundaries from a young age. The ability to stand up for herself is an important skill. Teach her early on how and when to say “no” in situations where she is uncomfortable, even if that might make someone else unhappy.
9. You Can Be Anything
Whether she wants to be a singer or an engineer, encourage your daughter in all of her interests. Get excited about the future with her and teach her to pursue her dreams without fearing risks and roadblocks. Your daughter has new and exciting ideas every day. Ask her about them, and be sure to listen. Nothing’s more fun than imagining together what she could become!
10. I love you.
It may seem obvious, ubiquitous, and even trite, and your teenage daughter may roll her eyes when you insist on saying it for the upteenth time as she breezes out the door, but tell her anyway. “I love you” is a reassuring reminder that no matter what happens, she is important to you, that you are ready to share joy in her achievements and provide help and comfort in adversity. Ask yourself: if you could only tell your daughter one thing, ever, in your lifetime; if she had only one phrase to remember you by, what would be the most important thing to convey in words?
This is it.
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