How to raise a strong daughter and help her develop strong self-esteem.
Growing up, I was your classicly painful, awkward, self-conscious, and insecure teenage girl. It didn’t help that by seventh grade, I measured six-feet, hated my body, and battled acne.
Sure, some of that was just part of growing up. But part of it was a serious lack of self-esteem. Having poor self-esteem and lack of confidence led to me make some poor choices when I was young:
Giving in to peer pressure. Participating in mean girl behavior. Trying to be someone I wasn’t. Following the crowd and not my heart.
Despite my awkwardness and low self-esteem, my teen years were still pretty good.
But I can’t help to think that if I had more self-confidence, things could have been better. It’s likely I would have been more courageous instead of playing small and letting limiting beliefs hold me back.
Self-esteem struggles followed me into adulthood. But now that I’m in my 40’s, I’ve worked through a lot of it. I’ve realized that many of my issues stemmed from generational family patterns.
I think about that a lot. And as a mom, it impacts how I raise my daughter. This is why I’m trying hard to raise a strong daughter by helping her develop confidence and strong self-esteem.
Raising a Strong Daughter with Confidence
Maybe because I’m a “midlife mom,” but I care less about raising my daughter to meet others’ expectations and more about feeling confident.
Because if she doesn’t learn to trust herself now, it will only be harder when she’s an adult.
It’s not easy, but I’m working all the time to try and instill confidence, self-worth, and strength in her.
I’m not a parenting expert. Not by a long shot. But given my experiences growing up, it’s very important to me to raise a strong daughter.
I believe raising a strong daughter begins with developing self-esteem in childhood. But in order to do that, I have to be aware of my own behavior and the environment I’m providing.
Here Are a Few Factors That Impact Self-Esteem
Parents With Low Self-Esteem
Growing up around people who struggle with low self-esteem can cause a child to develop similar issues. Children can end up feeling inadequate and unworthy.
Low self-esteem parents might be unsupportive of a child’s decisions and interests, which makes them feel like they aren’t good enough no matter how hard they try.
Then sometimes, parents put too much pressure on children to be perfect. These unrealistic expectations also contribute to low self-esteem.
Kids aren’t perfect, so let’s stop expecting them to be.
I see a lot of parents living through their children and expecting their accomplishments to fulfill them….the adult. It’s not fair and it’s not realistic.
No one can live up to unrealistic expectations.
An Unstable Childhood
Unstable or chaotic households can often make a child feel insecure, and those feelings can reflect on a child’s feelings of self-worth.
Very authoritarian or overly permissive households, lots of arguing or yelling, or drama and conflict, can all create chaotic childhoods.
Media and Culture
The messages our children receive from the media, particularly social media, certainly contribute to self-esteem issues.
Media messages influence young minds with the pressure to look, act, or otherwise be like celebrities, public figures, or even peers.
So we, as parents, need to be aware of our example and our environment.
Ways to Raise a Strong Daughter
Encourage Her to Follow Her Dreams
Let her follow her own interests and passions. Even if it’s not something you had in mind for her. Encourage her and introduce her to trying new things, but don’t try to force activities and hobbies that she’s doesn’t like or enjoy. If she doesn’t feel it, then move on
I had big dreams of my daughter playing sports, much like her dad and I did. He and I are both competitive and grew up in active households where sports were a big deal.
But our daughter never found her groove when it came to sports. And as much as I was looking forward to weekends at the ball fields and shooting hoops in the driveway, it’s not in the cards for us. She has zero interest.
Instead, she gravitates towards the arts and creative pursuits. We’ve wholeheartedly embraced that and we encourage her to follow her path that way. I fully believe that she will end up doing something in life that she enjoys because she’s been encouraged to follow her interests and natural curiosity.
Model Body Acceptance
Make an effort to stop criticizing your body and how you look. I used to moan and groan in the mirror, saying things like “This makes me look fat.” “I look terrible.” And even “I hate my body.”
I’ll admit it. I still fight the urge.
But it’s not okay. This negative self-talk teaches our daughters that self-worth should be based on appearance.
Instead, speak with confidence about your body’s strength. Resist the urge to discuss your appearance and how it makes you feel.
It’s okay to have feelings about your appearance and want to look and feel your best. Just don’t go crazy talking badly about yourself because of how you look.
There’s a difference.
Eliminate People-Pleasing Behavior
It’s one thing to get along well with others. But it’s an entirely different thing to live life as a People Pleaser.
If you want to raise a strong daughter, teach her the importance of using her voice and not going along with the crowd. She needs to be able to stand up for what she believes and avoid peer pressure as much as possible.
We talk often about setting healthy boundaries when it comes to friendships and relationships and encourage her to be true to herself and also doing what she knows is right.
Praise Effort Rather Than Ability
I get it. We all want to praise our kids when they shine And we should. But one thing that we can do to help their self-esteem is to praise effort – even when they fall short.
Some studies show that praising effort and determination can help children develop problem-solving skills and overcome future obstacles.
So even if when they miss the mark on the math test, when they strike out, when they misstep in the dance recital, praise the effort.
Let’s be honest. Sometimes we might find ourselves getting sucked into gossip with friends or family. But think about it. When she hears you talking about someone, she learns to mimic that behavior.
I have been surprised to hear some of the things little girls talk about at school, and how they talk about each other.
It starts at a young age. But they are learning it from adults.
If we want to raise strong daughters, we can’t teach them to tear each other down. We want to teach them to build each other up. It starts with us. So let’s be better examples.
Stop gossiping. Stop teaching her to validate herself by talking about others.
Talk With Her Openly and Honestly
Have an open dialogue with your daughter. Let her know she can come to you with anything.
Look, she’s going to have questions. Hard ones.
Wouldn’t you rather her come to you rather than someone with questionable intentions or someone who isn’t equipped to have hard conversations?
I have a good friend who shared one of her parenting philosophies with me.
When her daughter was very young, she told her, “You can ask me anything, and I will answer it. I may need a few minutes to think through my answer. But, I will always give you an answer.”
That blew me away. I loved it.
I think so many girls are afraid to come to their parents with hard or embarrassing questions.
But I never want my daughter to feel like she can’t come to me with anything. So I adapted this same tactic.
Make Sure She Knows She is Loved
Finally, just make your daughter know she is loved unconditionally – and nothing is ever going to change that.
Life throws all kinds of things at our kids. Your daughter needs to know she can come to you with anything.
Someday, your daughter might get into some trouble. She might be scared. Or angry, or hurting. But she needs to know you will be there for her. No matter what.
So make sure the lines of communication are open. Make sure she knows she can trust you with her heart, that she can come to you with anything.
No matter what.
Resources to Raise a Strong Daughter
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These are just a few ideas for how to raise a strong daughter. But if you look around, there are lots of resources to help guide you. Here are just a few examples of books on raising a strong daughter:
What are some ways you are raising your daughter to be strong and confident? Share in the comments!