Raising Confident Girls by 7Wonderlicious - HTML preview
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Raising Confident Girls
Although nobody gets a parenting manual or bible in the delivery room, it is our duty as parents to try to make our kids as well rounded, happy and confident as possible. It is a lot easier to bring up great kids than it is to try and fix problems caused by bad parenting, when our kids have become adults.
Our children are all individuals – they are not our property but people in their own right. Too many people have children for the wrong reasons – they want someone to love them or they want to live on through their kids. Children deserve respect andmust be allowed to become their own person. They are not mini versions of their parents – well at least they shouldn’t be.
From the day they are born, kids should be allowed to find their own way in this world and at their own pace. Now, we are not suggesting for a second that you abandon them to their own devices. What we mean is that your role as a parent is similar to that of a coach. You should be there to cheer them on as they move towards different goals, but never try and push them too hard to do something they are simply not yet ready for.Nurturing a Confident Baby Girl
Watch your verbal and non-verbal communications with your baby. Listen to them when they communicate with you. For example, babies use crying to communicate. Generally a baby will only cry when she needs something i.e. nappy to be changed, she is hungry or she is scared and wants a cuddle.
A baby who is held and cuddled will grow more secure knowing she is valued and loved. That is why we do not support a parenting trend that developed a few years ago which suggested that babies should be left to cry. In our opinion this is very cruel and potentially damaging to the child.How can a baby trust her parents if they ignore her when she needs them most?
Despite not being able to talk in a language we comprehend, babies probably understand more than you can imagine. Infants and small children are like sponges – they soak up everything we say and do. It is important that you speak to your baby encouraging them to mimic you and the noises she hears around her. Sing to her – most babies love singing and they don’t mind if you are tone deaf!
In the early years especially, a child views her parents as her whole universe. She wants to keep mummy and daddy happy. She basks in your love and attention. She expects to get your approval when she tries new things. All babies will try things at different times. Depending on her learning style, some things will come easy to her whilst others will take a little longer to master. By all means encourage her to explore her boundaries but do it in a relaxed way.
If mum is pushing baby to do something that she is not yet ready for, she will sense mums disappointment in her and that will knock her confidence thus starting a cycle which may delay mum getting her way. Just because you don’t voice your frustration out loud doesn’t mean that your child hasn’t picked up on the non-verbal signal. Infants are wired to pick up on the non-verbal signals possibly more than the verbal ones.
It doesn’t matter if Mary down the road has been potty trained since she was 6 months old. Your child isn’t Mary and will develop at her own pace. Those parents who constantly push their children to walk early, talk early etc set them up for a life of disappointment as they constantly battle to overcome silly tests set by other people.
If on the other hand, mum is confident that the little girl will be potty trained, walking and talking by the time she goes to school, the girl will feel loved and accepted which will increase her self worth. It may also make her achieve things quicker and easier as she will have the confidence to experiment knowing that no matter what she is loved!
Baby massage is wonderful for generating a close bond between parents and child. But massage also instills confidence in an infant. The gentle touch causes her body to release feel good hormones and make her feel safe.
A number of studies show that babies can tell the difference between males and females as early as their first year. What's more, they begin forming gender stereotypes almost as soon as they know they are boys or girls.
Babies receive subtle and not so subtle messages from everything and everyone of what it means to be a boy or a girl. They are experts at imitating parents and soaking up all information available around them.
Even at this early age parents should be alert to what messages are being passed to their daughter. It is ok to tell a baby she is beautiful, cute and precious but is that all she is hearing all the time? Does she see and hear the people around her only comment about her physical appearance and her clothes? Is your baby smart, playful, funny, full of energy? Tell her so.
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you have to amuse your baby all day. That will only exhaust both of you. Babies need to learn to spend quality time on their own just as older children need to learn to amuse themselves. You cannot love yourself and be confident in who you are if you have never got to know yourself. So let baby spend some time in her cot or playpen with a couple of favourite toys. If you listen carefully, you could just hear her having a great chat with her new friends.Promoting Confidence in your Toddler
The baby phase passes so quickly – you should try and enjoy as much of it as possible as once a child has grown you cannot recapture this magical time.
Leaving babyhood behind your child becomes a toddler. How do you know when your little baby girl has become a toddler? There is no specific age but believe me you will know when it happens. The defining moment is when you realise that the baby who did everything you said now wants to put her own mark on the day.
When you have a toddler, take some time out to sit down and play with her every day. Get down onto the floor at her level and spend quality time with her. She will love the attention and she won’t be a toddler for very long. Also by putting yourself on her level, you can see potentially dangerous hazards that you may not have noticed from your taller viewpoint!
Children learn from play – it is very important to give them as much opportunity and encouragement to let their imaginations run wild. Feed their inner belief that they can do or achieve anything they want to in life. Give them paint and messy stuff to play with and see what they get up to.
When buying your toddler toys, don’t opt for the most expensive item – you will only please the
marketing company behind it! Kids have no real conception of money and they are likely to get a lot more long term enjoyment out of the box that the toy came in rather than the figure from the latest movie.
Also buy age appropriate toys – you won’t inspire your little girl to become the next Albert Einstein by giving her a chemistry set when she is 2. Again, don’t push your child too fast or too quickly. Let her enjoy her toddler-hood as school is just around the corner.
Please don’t just buy your daughter dolls and avoid beauty related toys, unfortunately many toys are packaged in pink and blue to associate them with gender and a lot of the toy that teach kids critical thinking are labeled blue. Ensure you buy your daughter some building blocks and other toys that teach problem solving, building skills etc.
Remember to praise your toddler but try not to link it only to external beauty, which happens quite frequently when adults praise girls. A confident child is born when her parents praise her for her behaviour, fantastic laugh, good deeds and values and not just for her physical appearance!
A lot of girls are raised to believe external beauty is the most important thing they can ever have. Girls tend to be over praised for how they look since they are babies giving them the unfortunate message that this is very important.
They get exposed from a very young age to princesses, barbies and other similar toys as well as media that generate unattainable imagesof beauty. This can have very negative implications on their confidence and self-esteem.
It is very important that both parents support and agree with each other on how to raise the child. If one parent says that something should be done a certain way, the other parent must back them up. If they disagree, then have a chat about it later in private. But always try to present a united front when it comes to parenting and discipline.
Toddlers learn very quickly how to play mummy against daddy and this will only lead to heartache and frustration for all concerned. Show your child that both of her parents love her and hopefully each other. People who show each other mutual respect and appreciation are good role models for your child to adopt.
It is crucial that both parents establish an individual relationship with their child. Children need mummy and daddy. Some mums find it difficult not to hover around when dad is looking after THEIR baby. But whilst some dads will not be initially good at nappy changing or other baby related tasks, practice makes perfect and the safety of their kids is very important to them.
In this day of long working hours, a lot of parents don’t see their kids during the week. Make time at the weekends to develop that special bond with your kids.
If both parents work full time, try to make arrangements with your employer so that one of you can be at home before your toddler goes to bed.
Making dinner or doing the housework can wait. Spend some quality time with your little girl, read her a story whilst giving her loads of cuddles. This way you are reinforcing the message that she is a very special person who is loved and treasured.
A lot of working parents spend the weekend sorting out the house, doing the shopping and getting ready for the next week. All of this has to be done but your priority should be spending time getting to know your children. Shop online and have the groceries delivered rather than dragging your toddler to the shops.
Ensure you take the time to go on family outings. These do not need to be expensive. Toddlers love exploring in parks and feeding the ducks and swans.
Try and give them freedom in
the playground. Encourage them
to be adventurous and to try out
new things. If you go to any play
centre you are likely to hear
mothers telling their kids to be
careful or they will get hurt. Don’t
go too high, too fast, too slow
etc. These mothers mean well –
they are trying to prevent their
child sustaining an injury. But
kids need to run free sometimes.
I am not suggesting that you let
them play in traffic but in the
safety of a play centre, you
might want to curb your own fears and let them get on with it. Sure, they may fall and hurt themselves but generally it will be very minor and completely forgotten as they excitedly tell you they went the highest, fastest etc.
We need to accept that bruises, minor broken bones and other injuries are part of childhood. As a mum you will spend time in the hospital – great leaders such as Nelson Mandela were not kept tied to their mothers apron strings. Within reason, you need to encourage risk taking.
Taking calculated risks and winning will instil confidence in your girl and motivate them to believe that if they try hard enough just about anything is possible.
One more crucial point; do ensure your girl wears clothes that allow her to play full out. Let her get dirty, play in the sand, this is the time to explore and to be physically active. Leave the expensive frilly dresses for special occasions if she enjoys this sort of apparel.
Remember that babies grow into toddlers for a reason. Most toddlers will severely test their parents patience at some point. There is a reason why the “ terrible two’s” are called that name. There will be days when all of us will lose our tempers and say something that we shouldn’t to our young children. Don’t obsess over this – as long as it doesn’t become a pattern it won’t stop your child being confident. Just apologise and move on. You are showing your toddler that mummy or daddy can make mistakes too and that they are also human beings!Parenting a Confident Child Now that your girl is growing older it is even more important that you provide her a positive role model. We are all a product of our upbringing and early environment. We are conditioned to respond to certain situations and stimuli.
If as a child, all you hear is your parents moaning and complaining about how hard life is, how difficult everyone else makes their job, how awful the boss is, it is easy to see how the child can become negative about the world in general.
Don’t let them hear you saying you can’t do x, y or z. Actions speak louder than words so if there is something you are afraid of doing, why not see can you beat that fear. Parents who approach everything in life with a “can do” attitude are much more likely to raise confident kids.
Don’t let them hear you saying you don’t like your body or that you are fat, they will take that self-believeonto themselves. Parents that love themselves raise confident little girls with a positive body image and self-esteem. Be a positive, confident inspirational role model in your girl’s life.
Be sure to select other role models for her. In this day and age the cult of celebrity and physical appearance is everywhere, try to balance things out by showcasing positive role models such as heroes, scientists, sports figures, diplomats, benefactors, adventurers etc. It will be very important that you find female role models in these areas as she will more easily relate to women. We live in a time pressed society where everyone is so busy working, paying bills and constantly trying to catch up on life. With the current economic downturn, more of us are stressed over the bills and our jobs. Children don’t understand that it is outside influences that are causing mum and dad to be snappy or hassled – they can very easily believe that they have done something wrong.
So try to take some time out and take your kids out to the park for some fun. Or play a board game with them. There is nothing like a child’s laughter to melt away your problems or worries if only for a little while. And children don’t need expensive toys and games to be happy. They need love and attention from the people that matters most to them i.e. you.
Create a happy safe family environment in your home where everyone, regardless of age, is respected and admired.
Children, like adults, need affection. They need to know that someone loves them enough to give them time, cuddles, attention. A girl will be more confident with herself if her parents actually seem to enjoy her company. If her parents make time to play with her and amuse her rather than sending them in to watch TV or play with their toys, she will have higher self esteem.
Be careful not to criticise your child. Recent studies have shown that over 90% of the communication that a child hears before their 5th birthday will be negative. Think about it. We often criticise our kids without meaning to hurt them or attack them. How often have you said to your child “you are so messy – your toys are everywhere!”, or “your writing is so untidy” or “why can’t you behave like Jane down the street”.
As parents, most of us are not intentionally hurting our children but if, as a child, all you hear is “don’t do that” or “you are untidy, lazy, irresponsible, not as good as Jane etc”, then you are either going to do one to two things. The child will believe that she is always bad no matter what she does so she might as well act up. She becomes rebellious, aggressive and very hard to manage. Or she believes that she is totally worthless so gives up trying and becomes withdrawn, lacking in confidence and suffering poor self esteem.
Be careful to listen to your daughter and pay attention to what she is telling you not what you think you hear. If a child comes home from school telling you that everyone else in the class is much better/smarter than them, the worst thing you can do is pat them on the head and tell them they are being silly.
You have just undermined their confidence and belief in themselves – they trusted you with their feelings and you have dismissed them. Instead, try and sit down with your child and ask them why they think that way. In language which they will understand but not find patronising, try and explain that some people are better than others in certain fields but they are not as good as your child in xxx. X being whatever it is your child excels in and we all excel in something – you just have to find it.
Never tell your child to grow up or stop behaving like a baby. Children sometimes struggle with their emotions just like adults do. They can feel overwhelmed by life and this can be illustrated by a “babyish” reaction. Again try talking to them and finding out what is making them feel that way. It is only by talking and listening to your child, that you can help them. They will trust you and become more confident in their own abilities to solve their own problems or issues.
If they are behaving like a baby (and are not still in nappies) then find out why. They may be tired or just having a bad day. Try and distract them but do not focus on the “babyish” behaviour. We all have days that you would prefer to spend in bed with the duvet over your head and as the day goes by you wish you had– kids are no different.
Limit how much television your child watches. TV does not help to stimulate your child’s imagination or creativity if overused. Children are much better off outdoors exploring their back gardens then indoors watching an educational nature program on the TV.
Children are curious by nature – that is how they learn. Encourage
your child to discover the world for herself whilst at the same time keeping her out of danger. So whilst you might not relish them tasting an ant, the ant won’t harm her. It helps to keep things in perspective. Kids need to get dirty be it whilst they are painting or playing in the mud. Clothes can be washed, repaired or replaced – childhood memories of fun and laughter can’t!
In fact the trend for parents, schools and childcare facilities today not to let children be kids in case they hurt themselves is not conducive to creating positive confident adults. If we are constantly telling our children that
the world is a bad place, full of people who will hurt them, how can we expect them to grow into well rounded individuals? They are more likely to be scared of their own shadows!
So what can you do? So if your child wants to walk to school by themselves, meet them halfway if it is safe to do so. For younger children, rather than walk them to the classroom door, why not try leaving them at the school gates. You can wait discretely to make sure that they haven’t come out again.
So how do we nurture our girls to become confident without turning them into spoilt brats! Well, most kids will copy their parents so actions speak louder than words. If you are constantly shouting at or disrespecting your partner, then you cannot expect your child to be respectful to other people.
Find reasons to praise your daughter but be genuine and keep it matter of fact. If you praise everything your child does, she will learn that the praise is not worth having or else she may think that she need somebody else’s approval for every action she takes. If your child has done something amazing – then by all means praise her but telling her she is the next Michelangelo when she built a clay model is pushing it. Unless of course it is amazing and she is a junior expert in sculpting.
When you see her working hard on task, even if she is struggling a little bit say: “You are a very hard-worker. You can get things done when you work hard!” When she has completed something related to math, such as counting to ten or doing an algebra problem, say “I am happy you enjoy numbers, You are good at math.” As she struggles to finish something difficult tell her “I like the way you figured that out for yourself. You don’t give up and it has paid off.”
Sometimes parents take this advice and start praising their child mostly for being good or getting good grades in school. But you can inadvertently teach a child that in order to get your approval they must be the best behaved or get the highest marks all the time.
Instead, why not comment on your child’s laugh or running abilities or smile as well as her values and qualities such as: persistency, hard work, fairness, creativity, confidence, bravery, goodwill, generosity...
Think about how much attention you give your child and whether it is positive or negative. If you have two children in the one room and one is playing nicely by herself whilst the other is climbing on the sofa. Who gets your attention? Usually the one playing on the sofa as she gets told off. The other child gets ignored so both children learn that negative behaviour will get mum or dads attention.
A different tactic would be to praise the child playing nicely and ignore the one climbing on the furniture. Now the message that is coming across is that positive behaviour gets attention and one thing all kids the world over have in common is that they like attention.
Also show your daughter some appreciation. Say thank you to her if she helps with the dishes or tidy up their toys. Catch them being good and you may just find that they are good more often!
Let your daughter solve her own problems or at least attempt to do so. Obviously the type of problem they are able to resolve will depend on their age. For example, if an older child wants an expensive doll, try and encourage them to think of ways that they can earn some money towards the cost of the doll.
For younger children you could let them do their own school homework. We will use Ann and her daughter Sarah to exemplify a very common problem. Sarah, aged 5, was asked to make a castle and bring it into school the next week. So Ann gave her some cereal boxes, glue and crayons and Sarah was very proud of her castle. The only help my Ann gave was to do some cutting for her. Sarah’s pride in her own work took a beating when they arrived at school to find that the parents of her classmates had obviously decided that the homework was meant for them. A section of the castles had moats filled with water whilst others had pink turrets made from bricks.
You probably can see the picture. If you have spent any time at a school with your child, you have seen this scene before. Sarah cried her eyes out. But Ann told her little girl that it didn’t matter what the other castles were like – she had made herself and that is exactly what the teacher wanted. Sarah’s very wise teacher obviously agreed as she judged her cereal boxes as the winner and she got pride of place in the classroom.
In raising a confident child, motivation is one of the greatest gifts you can give them. Children who are not motivated are down, depressed, bored, listless etc. Not a happy picture is it? Kids are born believing they can do anything – look at any toddler who learns to walk. She will never believe she cannot do it – she falls over again and again but she always gets back up until one day she walks on her own. So it is very distressing to see children, particularly young children, lose that belief in their inner abilities. Keep your daughter engaged, let her try things out and learn by herself, this will develop in her problem solving and critical thinking skills as well as resourcefulness.
A lot of our parenting is done on autopilot and is based on what we learned from our parents even if we don’t agree with it now we are adults.
We need to watch our language with our girls and make sure that we label the behaviour as “wrong” or “naughty” rather than the children. A child is not going to have a healthy value of their own worth if they believe that they are naughty and evil. So next time you discipline your daughter (and all children need discipline at times!), try to remember to use appropriate language. If they have hit another child, then you could say “hitting is naughty” rather than say “you are really naughty”.
Involving your daughter in sports and physical activity is a very effective and essential strategy to build her confidence and selfesteem. It promotes better health, wellness and body awareness; it builds life skills and may create social networks.
A healthy girl should get involved in all sorts of physical activities such as for example swimming, running, cycling and dancing. It is also veryimportant for her to get exposed to team sports as they teach her about working with others and help her learn social skills.
Remember to get outdoors with your girl, take her for little walks in the park, it a great way to spend some parent- daughter quality time. Encourage your daughter to try new things, to move out of the stereotypical “female” activities. Does she know how to fix her bike? Have you though her how to read a map? How about encouraging her to try a new sport that is not traditionally played by girls? maybe a martial art?
In our society we are all used to experiencing that certain jobs and activities are done mostly by men, we need to undo this message in the minds of our daughters.
Ensure that she is exposed of both men and women doing all sorts of jobs and activities so that she understands that she can be anything she wishes to be.
Encourage you daughter to speak up, express her point of view and ask questions. Encourage her to evaluate options when solving a problem, ask her to go over her options out loud, ask her what worked, what did not work and encourage her to reflect on the reasons for the different outcomes.
Teach that when something does not work, it only means she needs to adjust her approach and think up a new plan. Let her know that exploring different options is the way people get things done and solve problems and that it can be a lot of fun.
Have you noticed the kinds of toys, movies, commercials and magazine ads that surround your daughter everyday? What are our girls being taught to value?
Society has taught us that girls and women need and want to be thought of as beautiful.
From the day they start understanding words, girls are read fairy tales about princesses who are admired because of their beauty. They are admired for being, nice, quiet, compliant, shy, and sensitive. That's a powerfulmessage that can inhibit young girls ability to develop into confident women.
Several studies examining the media confirm that young girls are being bombarded with over sexualised images of young and in many cases shallow tv celebrities, in full makeup and with overexposed bodies. Many of these images are highly retouched and enhanced.
As your daughter gets a little older, spend some time with her watching these adverts and tv shows together. Encourage your daughter to critically examine the information and images being displayed.
Help her identify and reject the distortions and enhancements in visual media, explain to her that these images are not real, that they are full of special effects created by computers.
Increase her awareness and understanding of gender related biases and discrimination. A great way to do this is to have her examine the different ways men and women are being portrayed on movies, tv shows and commercials, ads and books. What are the differences? Are they real?
Our girls face tremendous pressure to meet society's unrealistic and very damaging expectations of what it means to be a girl. As parents, we have the obligation and the right to do all that we can to undo these messages, and to make our daughters feel “beautiful” inside and out, because they are wonderful human beings, intelligent, creative, talented, strong, hardworking, funny, energetic and so much more.Your Role as a Coach
Remember your role as a coach rather than a fixer. Your aim is to rear children who become positive role models as adults. You are preparing your child to one-day take complete responsibility for herself and her actions.
You cannot do this if you do not start early and teach her independence, confidence in her abilities, allow her to make appropriate age related decisions
etc. If you see your role as a coach i.e. someone who encourages from the sidelines rather than living the child’s life for them you won’t go far wrong.
Keeping your child dependent on you doesn’t do anyone any good – it fosters resentment and anger in a bond that should be very precious – the bond between a parent and child is the only example of pure unconditional love we have. You should love your children unconditionally and accept them for whom they are not whatever you wish them to be.
Raising a child who has healthy self esteem and belief in her own abilities will enable her to go on and become a very successful well rounded adult – surely that should be the aim of every parent today.We believe every child is placed on this earth to accomplish something remarkable, something that only he or she can do. Our tribe was created with one single purpose, to help reduce all threats to girlhood that crush our girls ‘ true nature and potential.
We focus on overturning the gender stereotypes that make girls obsess with body image, keep girls from taking leadership roles, that limit girls’ interests in sciences and maths and cause them to feel self-aware when playing sports.
We have created a number of products that teach girls to be confident, to enjoy problem solving, physical activity and so much more.Find out more at http://www.7Wonderlicious.com