Parents naturally want the best for their daughters: good friends, the wisdom to make good decisions and the strength to cope with difficult life situations.
Parents must take time to understand what their daughters are going through. Parents who believe low confidence is inevitable set their daughters up to expect less of themselves,â? says Richard Lerner, PhD, the Bergstrom Chair and director of the Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development at Tufts University.
For many girls, puberty and the transition from primary high school hit about the same time. â??Just when theyâ??re changing schools, changing peer groups, and facing higher academic demands, their bodies start changing too,â? says Lerner. The result is a tremendous amount of stress all at once. Parents, especially moms, can help girls put the stress of this period in perspective by sharing their own stories and how they managed to get through confusing or difficult times. When girls know that theyâ??re not the first or only ones to struggle, and that things do get better, they often start to see a light at the end of the tunnel.
Praise the process
Well-intended efforts to boost your daughterâ??s self esteem can backfire, depending on what you say. Focusing praise on your daughterâ??s looks rather than her activities can reinforce the message that her appearance matters more than things she does.
Support your daughter through the tough times
Your teen daughter may act like she doesnâ??t need you, but the opposite is true. Numerous studies show that parentsâ?? structure, advice, and guidance play a pivotal role in teensâ?? sense of wellbeing and resilience.
Foster confidence-building communication
As your daughter gets older, sheâ??ll likely encounter pressures sheâ??s never faced before. â??Parents usually want to step in when they see their daughter struggle,â? says JoAnn Deak, PhD, a psychologist and author of Girls Will Be Girls: Raising Competent and Courageous Daughters. But as your daughter gets older, intervening is often not possible or even healthy. Many of the girls Deak works with tell her, â??Sometimes I just need to talk things through. My mom wants to fix everything.â? Instead, Deak tells WebMD, parents should let their daughters know they can listen without lecturing or intervening.
Keep online activities on your radar
Social networks like Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter can increase the divide between parents and kids. You may feel out of your element talking about it, but a large number of social interactions take place between teenagers online – and the interactions are highly public. Keep the channels of communication open about online activities so your daughter knows she can come to you if things get too intense.
Share your daughterâ??s passion
Every expert who talked with WebMD about raising confident daughters agreed that parents can make a profound connection with their daughters by paying attention to their interests. â??Showing interest in your daughterâ??s passions sends the message that what she likes matters,â? says Steiner-Adair. Listen for the things that light your daughter up and let her be the expert in these areas. When she talks about things that matter to her, ask her to tell you more. You might learn something new.
Be in it for the long haul
Raising confident daughters is long-term process. Some days you may feel youâ??re doing great, other days you may feel adrift at sea. If so, youâ??re not alone. â??The goal is to raise daughters who can handle whatever situation comes at them,â? says Deak.
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