When her bestie asked her if she likes her mom, she told her “yes, she always calls me a princess.”
It’s true. I call her a princess, countless times a day. It’s my term of endearment, and I think at this point she thinks she is a real princess. I also find myself calling her “beautiful”, and “pretty” more than a handful times a day.
I mean, it seems like there’s nothing wrong with making your daughter feel good about her exterior, but I also know that it’s not enough. I want her to feel confident and supported in all respects.
I looked at what experts are saying about this issue, and for her 4th birthday decided to choose some of the best tips as a reminder to myself and others looking to raise a happy, confident girl.
1. It’s ok to tell her she is beautiful if it’s said correctly
In a mother’s eye, every child is beautiful, so you want to tell her she is beautiful in a way that compliments her mind. Instead of saying, “Your shirt is pretty” or “Your dress is pretty,” comment on her choice of the outfit rather than the outfit itself. When she gets a little older, explain to her the importance of the way you carry yourself, and who are you, rather than what you look like. Beauty goes far beyond appearance.
2. Make sure she know what kind of princess she is
If you were to ask a four years old 30 years ago what princesses do, she might say something like: “They clean houses and they wait for princes to marry them.” Luckily, this is 2015 and we have a few princesses that actually give a pretty good example of what the real world is like. My favorite episode of Sofia the First (yes, I do secretly pay attention when Disney Jr. is on) is when she decides to go for a “boys” sport of riding the flying pony. Despite some doubts from her sister and friends, and failures while she was practicing, her persistence paid off and she won the race. Tell your little one she is a princess, but make sure she knows what kind of princess she is… one who works to earn the respect of others.
3. Praise her daily, in detail
I mean, there are so many things you love about your child besides her being beautiful. Tell her! And get specific. “I’m so proud that you finished that book all by yourself but asked for help when you needed it!”; “You shared your toys with your brother and it made him really happy, I love it when you play so nicely together.” Recognize, then verbalize what is good about her and she will incorporate it into her self-esteem.
4. Change your vocabulary
Retrain your brain to use the word “smart”. Sure the dress you just put on her is adorable, but did she lift up her arms when it came time to slip the frock over her head? Tell her: “You’re so smart!” Whether it’s figuring out where to put a puzzle piece or identifying her nose, telling her that you love the way she thinks will start to sink in from young age. What a great way to instill confidence.
5. Tell her you believe in her
This is great advice to any of your kids-but in our world, it’s especially important to say it to your girl. Help her believe in herself and her ability accomplish what she puts her mind to. Sometimes kids get frustrated and believe they can’t do something… whether it’s tying shoes, solving a puzzle, or riding a bike. Tell her you believe in her. Tell her it might take work, but that you know she can do it. This goes for you too, parents. If there is something you always wanted to do, do it! Go back to school, open your own business, start a new hobby, learn how to play tennis. It will not only make you feel a sense of accomplishment, but also teach your little one by example.
6. Encourage her to participate in sports, and get her outside
Putting your daughter in sports at an early age makes her appreciate her body for its strength, skill, and agility, rather than just its beauty. Giving your daughter the comfort and skills to play outdoors will also instill a greater sense of her body as a source of strength and teach her to take healthy risks. It also promotes teamwork which builds confidence as well. Try to introduce her to tree climbing, bug collecting, camping, and other outdoor activities – even if you prefer being indoors yourself.
7. Teach her to speak her mind
The goal: to build your daughter’s self-esteem by giving her a voice. This is such an empowering tool for life, and will be helpful in so many situations… in school, in relationships, at work, and all throughout her life. You want your daughter to speak her mind and to believe in the power of her voice. The way you achieve that is by validating things she tells you and empowering her through developmental stages between early childhood and adolescence.
What is your best advice for raising a confident girl? Share your thoughts in the comments below!