Empower is a strong word that goes beyond making someone feel good about themselves. It’s about giving them the tools to truly value themselves. Children are a blank slate when they are born and what parents tell them invariably impacts who they become.
A girl who is nurtured to believe in herself, is reinforced with positive affirmations, and encouraged to take risks is most likely to develop a strong sense of self-respect and belief in her own capabilities. In short, when you empower your daughter, you are providing a foundation for her future success.
There is no doubt that she will face challenges. But, when you empower her, she’ll know what to do when they arise. Here are four meaningful things you can do to empower your daughter starting in her early years.
1. Model self-acceptance
Avoid talking about your body hang-ups in front of your daughter. She will notice how you talk about yourself and also how you talk about other people. Dealing with your own stuff will allow you to raise a daughter with a healthy self-image. This starts with being more conscious of your own deeply ingrained beliefs and challenging them. You’re her most important role model and you want to show her that you love and accept who you are.
2. Choose words carefully
It might seem helpful to tell our girls how pretty they are, but it can also lead them to develop a sense of self-worth that’s dependent upon beauty. Encourage your daughter’s endeavors with words such as “determined”, “creative”, “brave”, “talented” and “kind”. Try to focus on their strengths and passion-driven pursuits. As your little girl falls asleep at night, whisper something positive about the day that relates directly to her. Going to sleep feeling loved and supported is empowering!
3. Identify strong female role models
Mama – take a little pressure off of yourself by ensuring that your daughter has other strong female role models in her life including family, friends and community members that you admire. These women will be an invaluable source of advice and cheerlead her accomplishments as she grows. Also, familiarize your girl with famous female role models, such as Maya Angelou and Bethany Hamilton, and explain how these women represent beauty that’s more than skin-deep.
4. Encourage her dad to listen
Steve Biddulph, psychologist and author of 10 Things Girls Need Most: To Grow Up Strong and Free, stresses the importance of a father’s role in raising strong and confident girls. He also shared in an interview that a dad is “the blueprint for what she can expect from boys and men”, and that “girls want the companionship of their dads, to have solid discussions, to joke and play. They like to download their concerns, without you needing to do anything but listen.” You can find more ways father’s can empower their daughters on The Good Men Project.