So – you want to raise a strong, brave, empowered, independent daughter. That’s awesome – as her parent, you are in a pretty great position to do that through your parenting style, your actions and your words. There are some words that can have significant power in your daughter’s life, and it’s important that she hears them not only from teachers, mentors, friends and peers, but specifically from you. Build your daughter up to be the very best version of herself by speaking these words over her:
- “You’re a good person”
Girls rely heavily on others’ opinions of them, and there is a swarm of nasty (not to mention unfounded!) comments out there waiting to attack her character as she grows older and more impressionable. Other peoples’ negative opinions can become a self-fulfilling prophesy if they’re not balanced with more truthful reminders of her goodness. It may seem obvious, but she needs to be assured that she is inherently good in order to believe it.
- “You have amazing ideas”
Give power to her ideas and let her know that they are unique and valuable from an early age. Girls who believe in their ideas become women with initiative and self-confidence.
- “You know the answer to this problem“
Sometimes, girls know the answer to something but need a little push to commit. Encouraging her to practise committing to a solution now will teach her to trust her instincts and decision-making as an adult.
- “You’re really good at this”
Acknowledging your daughter’s natural talents validates her abilities and encourages her to continue honing her skills. She is constantly going to face people who she perceives to be better than her, so it’s essential to instil the belief that her own abilities are not dependent on being the best; that she is absolutely talented regardless of how talented others might be too.
- “I love you”
Some families have these words constantly on their lips, but others go with the notion that actions speak louder than words, and though unspoken, everyone knows that they are loved. And yes, most of us know that our parents love us, but the words “I love you” are extremely powerful to hear all the same. Teach your daughter that your love for her is unconditional by ensuring that you say it regardless of her behaviour, emotional state, grades or achievements.
- “I’m proud of you”
Throughout her childhood (and hopefully beyond!), you are one of the people she is going to most want to impress. When you see that she has worked hard to achieve something, acknowledge it. Let her know you’ve seen the effort she has put in, and tell her that she has done well.
- “It’s ok to make mistakes”
It is very common for women to become perfectionists who beat themselves up over mistakes and perceived failure. Don’t let your daughter fall into that trap! By helping her believe that mistakes are just a normal bump in the road, you are raising her to pick herself up and carry on rather than dwell on the things she does wrong. Plus, by accepting her, mistakes and all, you become an unequivocally safe place for her to run to if she is ever in trouble.
- “You don’t need to follow in my footsteps”
Because she doesn’t. She might have your eyes, but she’s her own person with her own interests, talents and passions - not a younger, fresher-faced carbon copy of you. Sure, she may love the idea of taking on the family restaurant someday, or of growing up to be a lawyer just like you, but if she doesn’t – it’s not a personal attack against you. It’s simply a sign that you have raised a strong, independent daughter.
- “I wouldn’t change a thing about you”
It is important for your daughter to be comfortable to be herself around you, always. Don’t set impossibly high standards for her, and don’t compare her to siblings or friends. Simply let her know that she is perfect and wonderful in your eyes. Allow her to flourish in her own skin, not feel like she’s constantly disappointing you.
- “You are beautiful”
It’s no secret that when it comes to their appearance, girls are ridiculously hard on themselves. Girl as young as six are looking in the mirror and critiquing the way they look compared to their peers and the images of young women in the media. No doubt you see your daughter’s unique beauty better than anyone, so help her to see herself through your eyes.
Imagine living in a world in which an entire generation of women grew up with the unquestioning understanding that they are strong, uniquely talented, equal individuals. Parents of girls, it starts with you! Your words have power, so speak them wisely and intentionally, and raise your daughter to see the amazing person that she is.