The last thing any girl wants to do is listen to her mom give a life lesson, a lecture on confidence. Okay, wait, that is the second to last thing. The real last thing she wants to hear? You lecturing on how things she is upset about "doesn't matter" and how she will look back and not care about that when she is older. Even though that may be true, even though we can share all of our own stories about growing up and being confident or not confident and all of that, well, that isn't going to help her right now, with those tough feelings she may be having.
The good news? There are easy, simple ways to help our girls without it becoming a sappy after-school special that no girl, no matter the age, wants to sit through. Check out this list and see what you can do every day to build your girl's inner confidence.
-- Be careful of your own comments. You are her prime example of how to be a strong woman. If you constantly talk about how you don't like your body or how a celebrity looks or any other negative talk, your daughter will think that is what women do and will do it as well. Be sure to show her how you love what your body does and talk out loud about the things you love about your body and yourself.
-- Let her overhear you talking about her. When she makes good healthy, strong choices, like standing up for herself or when she made a good comment about a tough situation, let her hear you praising that choice to your husband or Grandma. It reinforces that smart behavior and adds value to it, which can boost her inner confidence to make that choice again.
-- Watch TV or movies with her. When you sit and see what images or storylines she is seeing, you are in prime position to be able to talk about or use it later to discuss body types or stereotypes or behavior that she's begin exposed to...popcorn is optional.
-- Listen and ask questions. When she comes to you with a situation from school or talks about something happening with teen celebrities, listen to what she is saying. Take it in first. Don't immediately jump to "tell" her what to do or what your opinion is....ask her what she thinks, what she feels, her opinion on it. This gives value to her thoughts.
-- Be specific with your praise. Instead of just saying "Good job!", be specific with what you are praising -- and make it about something other than her body or looks. Say that you liked how she helped her little brother with this math homework, how she was a good friend to someone, or that it was such a good choice to talk about about being mad or upset or happy (it is great to praise her feelings when she deals with them in a positive way).
-- Provide lots of options. Even if your daughter is into princesses or typical "girlie" things, provide other options. Get a toy microscope. Have a "pants" day, where she wears pants instead of her usual dress. Getting into her mind that there are lots of ways to dress and things to be interested in is key. Sometimes all it takes is having it around to spark a new interest.
-- Answer with a question. If she asks, "Do I look pretty?", instead of saying yes, ask her if she thinks she does or how does she feels in that outfit. This allows her to assert her own praise, her own opinion on her body and appearance, which is a huge confidence builder. Of course, after she answers, agree with her and support her that she is beautiful no matter how she looks or what she wears, but let her say it first.
How do you build confidence without lecturing?