Our girls face a plethora of pressures in this modern world. According to the New York Times, by the age of six, young girls are less likely to view their own gender as 'brilliant'. The journal Science reported that six-year-old girls start to believe specific activities are 'not for them', simply because they think they’re not smart enough. Furthermore, there is increasing concern about rising levels ofmental healthproblems experienced by young girls, which is why it is crucial that we take time to have conversations with our girls and guide them to becoming their best selves. Building self-esteem and resilience in our girls is key to helping them to navigate their relationships, school work and beyond.
Some girls may find it hard to mix with new people, try a new hobby or sport, or struggle to cope when they make a mistake, lose or fail. But self-esteem can grow and, with the right encouragement, they can start to feel confident, capable, and accepted for who they are.
Everything starts with a willingness to try. Our girls need to recognise that, whether they win or lose, they grow as individuals through different experiences. This can only take place if we have the confidence to come out of our comfort zones.
At every age, there are new things for our girls to learn. Babies spend months learning to walk, falling down many times then getting back up again, until they master it. As your daughter grows, remind her of falling over and getting back up again. There is good meaning in that example. Remind her to focus on her strengths, as this can be a great way to build her self-esteem. Start by asking her to write down three things she feels she is good at. Ask her to keep that piece of paper safe and, whenever she feels down, she can look at it to remind herself of what she does brilliantly.
So many girls experience friendship difficulties or feel under pressure to follow what their friends are doing. Not only is it important for girls to follow their own path, but it is also crucial that we explain to our girls the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships. Spark a conversation on what to do when people act negatively. For example, encourage girls to ask themselves: 'Do I feel good about myself when I’m with this person?'
We all make choices in our relationships and, if we consistently tolerate unhealthy behaviour in relationships, it can affect our self-worth. We need to empower our girls to respect their own self-worth. If your child is happy with who she is, her choices and her values, she is less likely to be influenced by others.
Turning Passions into Possibilities
Does your daughter dream of becoming a doctor, vet, racing driver, entrepreneur or a rugby player? When it comes to finding our girls’ passions, we can start small but think big. From a young age, the professions they aspire to are often the ones they see in their immediate environment, so showing them other ideas, hobbies and sports will broaden their sphere.
On the journey to finding her passions, help your daughter to embrace her strengths and the qualities that make her who she is. Understand the things that make her tick. I remind my daughter on a weekly basis that it's impossible to be good at everything but to focus on the things she enjoys, since they’re often the things she is also good at. In celebrating her passions, I want to teach her the value of personal mastery and working towards her personal best. Whatever our girls’ ambitions may be, it is our role to actively encourage and nurture their passions. Remember, it’s never too late to get started. Encourage your girl to try new things, lots of things, and watch her eyes open to a world of possibilities.
In summary, it is important for this generation of girls to know that trying hard at school, at sports, or at simply being kind is the best achievement they can accomplish. Praise her efforts, not her results.
So much progress has been made by strong women over the last hundred years, and now is the time for our girls to rise up and seize the opportunities that are in front of them.
Rise of the Girl: Seven Empowering Conversations to Have With Your Daughter by Jo Wimble-Groves is out now (DK, £14.99)