Raising confident daughters is a goal most girl mums have. We want our kids to grow up with goals and aspirations that lead them to a successful and thriving future. And we don’t want anything to hold them back! This can be a challenge for parents if confidence is not something that comes naturally.
Teaching your daughter how to be confident can feel hypocritical for many women (or men) when we often struggle with our own confidence.
Yet there are many ways we can encourage confidence in our children and possibly improve our own confidence along the way!
Raising Confident Daughters – Why It Matters?
Research has found that struggles with confidence and self-esteem tend to occur at a young age for many girls, typically between 8 and 14.
Authors Katty Kay and Claire Shipman conducted research that showed this drop is as high as 30% during these years when prior to this age, there is little difference between the confidence levels of boys and girls.
They attribute this drop to social expectations of being a “good girl” and the more cautious approach to life many girls take. In comparison, boys take more risks, fail more easily and build confidence quicker than girls.
This highlights the importance of instilling confidence in girls from a young age and why it is important on helping them build their resilience, self-worth and self-esteem.
How To Raise Confident Girls
Growing up as a shy child myself, one of the biggest fears I have for my own children is that they will let their own shyness hold them back from the things they really want. And sometimes it absolutely does!
There is nothing wrong with shyness. Kids are still learning about the big wide world ahead of them and it’s natural for that to be a little (or a lot) scary as they navigate their way through life.
Even as adults, most of us struggle with this!
It’s easy to feel like a fraud when we see others doing the things we wish we could do. Skinnier, perfect hair, clean house, always seem organised… the list goes on.
Add to that the fact that media offers up unrealistic ideals, and it’s little wonder we all struggle to some extent with lacking confidence and self esteem.
Yet as a parent, you are one of your child’s biggest and most influential role models in helping them become the confident girl you hope them to be. And the things you do in their presence can have a huge impact on how they perceive themselves and others.
Here are some simple habits you can adopt at home to help your daughters (and sons) to improve their self-confidence:
1. Speak About Yourself Positively
No one is perfect and, we all battle with our own insecurities. Yet voicing these insecurities can have a huge negative impact on our child’s body image.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t let them know that there are things that you would like to be different. Yet when it comes to body image, focus on the positive features and skills you have.
Avoid emphasising the parts of your physical appearance that you want to change. Instead, talk about the parts of you that you love or speak proactively about positive change.
Instead of “I’m so fat”, reframe it with “I can’t wait to feel healthier” or “It’s time for me to nourish my body better”.
Remember, this is you at this moment. And every single day is a new opportunity for growth!
Related Reading: You’d Be So Pretty If…: Teaching Our Daughters to Love Their Bodies Even When We Don’t Love Our Own by Dara Chadwick – Amazon
2. Take Care of Yourself
Don’t just talk the talk about healthy habits, self-care and exercise. Actually walk the walk! Literally.
If your kids see you working on a healthier lifestyle – eating well, exercising and taking care of your body, they will be more motivated to do the same.
We tend to take on the habits of the people we spend the most time with. If sneaking chocolate is your guilty habit (yes, that’s me), then there is a good chance this behaviour will be normalised for your kids too.
Raising your kids with a passion for a healthy lifestyle is a sure way to get them into great habits early on and foster a love of fitness and good food right from the start.
Team sports or family fitness hobbies are a great way to show them that these habits are an important part of your family life.
Treat yourself with love and kindness!
3. Challenge Yourself
When you focus on your own self-improvement, whether it be learning a new skill, reaching a fitness goal or doing something scary and brave, this sets an incredible benchmark for your children.
Share your journey with your whole family, no matter how young your children are.
It can be a very powerful experience for your children to hear your goals and the steps you are taking towards achieving them. And that means sharing the setbacks and the fears too. Because even the most confident person still has a fear of failure.
Being open and honest with your kids through your own growth will also strengthen your bond as a parent and help you to know each other on a deeper level.
What holds many girls back is their empathetic nature and the belief that they must always do the right thing. This means they aren’t often the best risk takers during their adolescent years. If they see you taking risks and pushing yourself, it helps encourage them to do the same.
Especially knowing they are in a safe place to take these risks.
Kids are never too young to start setting their own goals either! Get my free goal setting worksheet for kids.
4. Be Silly
How on earth is being silly going to help your children to be more confident? Simple.
They see a person they love who isn’t afraid to let your personality shine through.
When you are playful and silly, it shows your daughters that you aren’t scared of what others think of you in that moment. That is confidence shining through in one of its most pure forms!
Maybe silly for you is singing at the top of your lungs as you drive them to school. Or doing a silly dance routine with the mop as you work your way around the tiles.
In our household, it’s usually me breaking into random ridiculous dance moves as I walk into a room where my kids are. It’s always met with raised eyebrows, but the end result is almost always a smile. Sometimes they join in with dancing too!
Plus a fun household is a happy household! Embrace your silly! Laugh often!
Conversation starters for families can be helpful to get kids talking. Try these conversation starters for kids, teens, and couples, conversation starters for family dinner & Would You Rather questions for kids to get everyone talking!
5. Treat Yourself
When was the last time you actually took the time for a little self-care? Make your wellbeing a priority.
Self-care looks different for all of us, yet it’s equally important no matter how we do it.
Take time out to pamper yourself with a face mask or hair treatment, if that’s how you roll. Or a bubble bath with a glass of wine and a good book (that’s my favourite).
For you, it may be a walk with a podcast in your earbuds or an afternoon nap on a Sunday. Either way, do it! Make it happen.
When your kids see you taking care of yourself, they see their parents respecting themself and loving themself. This tells them that you know you are worth it!
Unconditional love for yourself is equally important as unconditional love for your daughter and the rest of the family!
6. Highlight Her Strengths, Not Her Looks
When raising confident girls, rather than compliment your daughter on her physical attributes – the things out of her control, instead compliment her on her personality strengths and special skills.
Hearing you tell her how kind she is to others when she offers to help is far more meaningful than hearing that she has pretty eyes.
Our personality and traits may be out of our control to a large extent, but the actions we choose to display are up to us. Letting your daughter know that you notice when she does these positive things will make it more likely that she will do them again.
It also builds her confidence in the fact that she is making good choices.
Highlighting the strengths you know she is capable of is equally important. This builds confidence in the skills she might still be working on too.
Related Reading: Strong Is The New Pretty: A Celebration of Girls Being Themselves by Kate T Parker – Amazon
7. Demystify The Media
Growing up we are surrounded by advertising and media portraying beautiful, flawless women, with perfect figures and glossy hair. This isn’t realistic for anyone, yet young impressionable girls usually don’t realise how much editing goes into creating these images.
Talk to your daughter about the processes involved in creating advertising media. Show her before and after images online that reveal how much is altered to create the ‘perfect’ image.
By demystifying this unrealistic expectation, your little girls will grow up with a better understanding of what is real and what is simply for media.
It helps to limit the amount of media that kids consume, to reduce their exposure to negative stereotypes and attitudes.
Related Reading: The Princess Problem: Guiding Our Girls Through the Princess-Obsessed Years by Rebecca C. Hains – Amazon
8. Let Her Fail
While parenting, we try to protect our children from the hard stuff, yet some of that hard stuff is what helps our daughters grow into strong, resilient individuals! This means letting her fail sometimes.
Kids need the opportunity to face adversity because that is real life. We can’t protect them forever and it’s better to send them into the big world with some preparation than in an overly optimistic bubble of unrealistic expectations!
The classroom is an especially safe place for kids to experience failure. Your daughter will have different academic strengths and weaknesses, so don’t feel responsible for a failed grade if they had all the tools for success.
Just as a scraped knee while learning to skate is equally okay, when you know serious injuries are unlikely. Your daughter will learn to pick herself up and get a little bit better with each attempt and realise this isn’t such a big deal.
Related Reading: The Gift of Failure by Jessica Lahey – Amazon
9. Encourage Self-Esteem Building Activities
Encouraging your daughter to engage in hobbies and activities is a great way to boost her self-esteem. These include any skill-based activities – sport, dance, creative arts, learning a language, etc.
Give your child some freedom to choose her activities, if there is an area she is passionate about. If they aren’t sure about hobbies to learn, trial them in some they may like until you find a good fit.
Learning special skills will help to raise a confident daughter, as they improve and grow through practice.
These activities also improve your child’s communication skills as they meet new people and learn how to navigate new friendships.
Evidence has found that kids who play sports from an early age, particularly team sports, have improved physical and psychological well-being as they enter young adulthood. This builds a strong foundation for developing high self worth and high self esteem.
A growth mindset journal is also a wonderful way for kids to build more confidence, resilience and manage worries.
Perhaps you can start a new hobby together? Check out 150 hobby ideas for women (and girls)!
Our eldest daughter was fearful of putting her face underwater and was petrified on the day of her first swimming lesson. By week two, it was her favourite day of the week. She also attends Polish school on a Saturday morning and not only does she learn about her father’s cultural heritage, but she has also the confidence to speak out loud in a group – in a second language! Both girls also do Brazillian Jiu Jitsu each week and this is a wonderful sport for raising strong daughters.
10. Positive Female Role Models
The world is full of strong women achieving incredible things, overcoming adversity and giving back to the world. Share stories and news stories about positive female role models with your daughters so they can grow up seeing what other women are capable of.
Don’t limit these role models to women who got there easily though. Share stories of women (and men) who failed, experienced setbacks and fought hard to reach their goals!
And don’t limit those role models to real people – give her fictional role models to love as well! Books, television shows and films are full of characters who display the qualities we hope to have for ourselves and for our daughters.
Don’t underestimate te important of strong fathers and male role models in their lives also!
Related Reading: What I Told My Daughter: Lessons from Leaders on Raising the Next Generation of Empowered Women by Nina Tassler – Amazon
Books About Raising Confident Girls
If you want to go a little deeper on how to raise strong and confident daughters, these books are great for further reading:
- No More Mean Girls: The Secret to Raising Strong, Confident, and Compassionate Girls by Katie Hurley – Amazon
- Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions into Adulthood by Lisa Damour – Amazon
- Queen Bees and Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends, and the New Realities of Girl World by Rosalind Wiseman – Amazon
- How to Mother a Successful Daughter: A Practical Guide to Empowering Girls from Birth to Eighteen by Nicky Marone – Amazon
- The Curse of the Good Girl: Raising Authentic Girls with Courage and Confidence by Rachel Simmons – Amazon
- Little Girls Can Be Mean: Four Steps to Bully-Proof Girls in the Early Grades by Michelle Anthony & Reyna Lindert – Amazon
These tips will hopefully support you while navigating those impressionable years of adolescence to help raise confident girls, who are self-assured, brave and kind. Use these resources to support their self-esteem boost and resilience as they flourish into their unique, beautiful selves!