My heart ached when I saw big fat tears roll down my daughter’s face as she painfully recounted how she was excluded by her recess buddies who turned against her when they didn’t take to her new friend. As a child who always looks out for others, my daughter was baffled that her attempt to be inclusive now means being excluded herself.
Betrayal and rejection can be painful for children and the hard truth is that it gets even tougher as they enter the tumultuous teenage years.
As parents, we are our children’s greatest protector. We smooth their fears with tight hugs, and our tender voice is a calming balm.
But what does it take to empower our daughters to become brave and confident individuals? How can we raise our girls to possess a healthy self-esteem that will enable them to stand against the harsh winds of criticism, failure or betrayal?
Here are 5 ways to help your daughter become strong and confident.
1. Build their emotional intelligence
Emotional intelligence refers to a person's ability to understand their feelings as well as those of others. We can teach our children to recognise their emotions and provide them with a safe space to express their feelings. By withholding our judgment and responding in empathy, we help our children develop self-regulation.
This lays a strong foundation of trust and gives our daughters a sense of security; they know they can always turn to us without reservation. This is especially important as our girls enter the tumultuous teenage years where they tend to keep their feelings to themselves as they navigate thornier situations such as peer pressure, academic stress and even BGR issues.
It’s also important to build their empathy muscles by helping them see things from different perspectives. For example, people sometimes act out of their insecurities and having the sensitivity to recognise this can help her not to take spiteful words personally.
We can teach our children to recognise their emotions and provide them with a safe space to express their feelings.
2. Point out her strengths
Confidence comes from believing in oneself. As parents, we have a powerful influence on how our daughters learn to view themselves. To raise confident and self-assured girls, we should point out the strengths that make our daughters unique and guide them to hone these qualities patiently.
We can find opportunities to praise them when they display grit in finishing a demanding task or when they show courage by performing in front of a crowd for the first time.
In a culture where girls are judged for their appearance, it is all the more important that we encourage our daughters to cultivate inner beauty such as being kind, compassionate, courageous or selfless.
3. The power of yet
At times when they struggle with a difficult task, their confidence level may falter. Teach them the power of the word, “yet.” This simple word can give them hope that they will be able to achieve their dreams one day – if they don’t give up.
Help our girls recognise that they can take baby steps to overcome their weaknesses and grow their strengths once they start believing in themselves. This helps them to develop a growth mindset, and in due course, they will be able to bounce back from setbacks and develop greater self-belief.
Teach them the power of the word, “yet.” This simple word can give them hope that they will be able to achieve their dreams one day – if they don’t give up.
4. Model strength and confidence
As parents, we are our children’s greatest role models. Being open about our weaknesses allows them to see that even as adults, we battle fears and insecurities when faced with challenging situations.
When I was facing a difficult time at work, I shared with my daughter about how I had to break out of my victim mentality to ensure I didn’t spiral downwards in negativity. By sharing my decision about how I saw things from a positive perspective, she learned how we always have the power to reframe our thoughts and not be a victim of our circumstances.
5. Having a brave heart for others
I have often taught my daughter that being strong doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be the person with the loudest voice or the boldest one to take on daring feats.
Instead, we can be brave for others who need a voice to help them speak up. Like a classmate who is ostracised for speaking differently or the smallest child at the playground who is taunted by other kids.
I’m glad my daughter took this last lesson to heart when she stuck to her guns and stepped out to befriend her new classmate despite the disapproval from her other friends. She may not receive the popular vote from her peers, but she now wears a badge of bravery for doing what’s right – with pride in her eyes.
© 2019 Focus on the Family Singapore. All rights reserved.
- Which tip is most relevant for you and your daughter?
- If you have a tween aged 11-14 years old, do join us for Create with Mum – a fun bonding event designed to help mothers and youths navigate the challenges of teenhood with confidence.
Susan is a self-confessed C+ mum who lives for coffee, chocolate and heartfelt connections. As a mum of one she believes that the best parenting style is parenting with intention.