Updated: Mar 7
This week (March 7th) is National Be Heard Day - the day for women to speak out! But, I know it can be pretty scary - especially if you weren't raised to speak your mind like I was. Its paramount for girls to be treated right in their youth if you want to give them a leg up in life. Here are 5 surefire ways to raise a rambunctious young girl into a strong and independent woman:
1. Let them FAIL, but support them when they do.
Failing early can be one of the most important lessons you can learn, if you audit the failure and learn from it. Help your daughter through this process when she fails. Help her see that this failure is just one – of many – and that’s okay! Research tells us that the girls who succeed are the ones who have a loving, secure home environment and adults they can talk to.
2. Educate girls about patriarchy.
Help them to understand the impact of society, so that they can see clearly the impact norms have on their own self-esteem and their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Education is empowering and knowing your place in the world can be shocking to a child – but it is also the only way to think about how to change it. Being aware of living in a patriarchal society can help young women better navigate it as well.
3. Teach them how to cope with emotions.
When we educate girls about why they feel the way they do— and teach them how to feel and ultimately be better—we empower them to change the standard and replace it with one that values inclusivity, intersectionality, and equality. The first thing to do is to shut up and listen. Then ask leading questions rather than acting like you assume you know what’s going on. Ask her what she thinks and how she feels. Look her in the eye and say, 'That's interesting/awful/sad/bad, tell me about that.
4. Be an Example.
This can be hard as women, we are innately more hard on ourselves than men are of themselves. But, don’t belittle yourself or your worth in front of your daughter. Seventy percent of girls believe they are not good enough or do not measure up. In order to help girls to feel their value, we need to value ourselves.
The more you belittle or break yourself down, the more value she will attribute to looks alone. And hey, we all have bad days – but don’t let her see you fall apart. It’s okay to let her see you struggle, but also let her see you maturely handle that situation and how you used it as a learn opportunity.
5. Teach them consent.
Consent is learned at SUCH a young age and our personalities are almost permanently set by age 5. Its important to teach little girls they have body autonomy and the right to consent or not consent to their body being touched – even if that’s in the form of a friendly huge, holding hands, etc.
Okay, great you think – let’s teach consent and body autonomy. I’m all in! But, you may now be asking yourself – what does teaching your (young) daughter this complicated concept look like? Easy. Tell her that she is the only one that gets to tell people whether or not she wants to be touched (this may be in the form of a hug, holding hands, kiss on the cheek, etc.) and reinforce this concept with EVERYONE.
This is the hard part as understandably, the grandparents and even parents, want to love on their little ones so badly it hurts! But, stay strong. Most child predators are family members and reinforcing the behavior and idea that “you have body autonomy but not when it comes to your relatives” is super problematic and dangerous in the wrong situation.
Have a boy? These steps all still apply if you want to raise a gentleman that knows how to treat women with respect and dignity. :)