Raising Teenage Girls into Confident Young Women
Being a mom is one of the best and most challenging things I have ever done.
We all know the pressures of late night feeding and diapers changes, to safety locks on everything….. and trying to remember all the gear for our babies! When we’ve past the toddler stage we start looking at preschools, grade schools, homework, friends, sport/dance carpools. Our job is ever-evolving and the challenges that stretch us seem to never end.
Having a daughter can seem to bring its own special kinds of stressors. Just when you think you can exhale, your daughter can dress, feed herself, and can complete most of her homework with minimal intervention, there is another shift on the horizon that isn’t far off.
Your daughter is growing up.
She’s making many decisions for herself and you get to watch her grow into the beautiful young woman that will eventually leave your nest and venture out into the world. It is such an exciting and yet scary time!
Teens and tweens today are inundated with Instagram, Snapchats, and the Kardashians and the responsibility we have is to help her navigate these years with confidence and a sense of self-worth. The issues girls are faced with are so much harder than when we were their ages.
While this isn’t news, watching my own girls exposed to images of perfection, plastic surgery, crash diets, sex, and clothing styles that expose way too much skin is sometimes appalling.
The balancing act is to teach them right from wrong without sheltering them or giving them too much rope. Not easy!
The road for these somewhat turbulent years needs to have a long view. The goal at the end of the road (probably college) is for them to have a strong sense of who they are, a moral code, and be happy, contributing members of society. Here are 5 tips to help guide your young girls to become confident and proud of themselves:
1. Be ready for mistakes. And lots of them! Whether it’s their clothes and hair styles, or getting a bad grade on a test or paper, try to keep in mind they are experimenting. They will do things that will sometimes make us cringe, as long as it is within reason, let them learn from their mistakes. (We all have those photos of our teenage years “what was I wearing????”)
2. Be the calm in the storm. Teenagers sometimes remind me of when my daughters were toddlers. They think they know everything and want so much independence but they really need us. As they stretch the boundaries to see how far they can grow, we need to be there when they fall. They need a lot of hugs too.
3. Set Expectations and Rewards/Consequences: People of all ages want to know what is expected of them – teenage girls are no different. Setting a bar for them to reach toward will give them a clear goal at home, something to work for, and the confidence of knowing they’ve accomplished it. This can be applied to grades, a project at home, phone and computer use, etc. But once the expectation is set, stick to the the follow through, don’t cave in if the goal fell short. Reset expectations and have them try again!
4. Words of Affirmation: Girls need to hear positive feedback almost daily. Help focus them on their strengths by telling them what they are doing well. It is music to their ears even if they don’t show it!
5. Let Them Be Themselves: It’s funny how much we can project ourselves onto our kids without even being aware of it. We all have had ideas on what we think our kids will be like – play sports, theater, computers, book worms etc. Even if their interests are far off from your own it’s okay! They are giving you a chance to learn something too.
Confident girls have a sense of knowing that they can offer something to others. Confidence is walking into a classroom feeling prepared, when compete on the field they give it their all, and trying new things.
Helping them grow into that confidence is about teaching them to know what is expected, to shoot for that, get up after they fall, and that learning and growing is life-long.
And confidence also comes from knowing that at the end of the day mom is there for them 100%.