When primary school, or even preschool starts, our little girls can lose their ‘spark’ a little, a consequence of social pressure plus the higher expectation of results in the classroom. So to help keep her confidence high, and her resilience strong for the hard years ahead, here are a few things you can do.
She needs to express what she needs to adults and maintian her ground with her friends. So teach your daughter to do just that, for example if someone is being mean to her at school, don’t be afraid to encourage her to stand her ground and tell the other kid, “stop that, I don’t like the way you’re treating me.”
When giving compliments, it’s always important (in general, not just with kids) to be specific and sincere. So as opposed to saying how pretty she looks, perhaps something a little more defined such as, “Your hair looks so soft and silky my pretty girl, and I’m so proud of your work on the maths exam yesterday.”
Don’t shower her with compliments that don’t match reality. If she’s not a mathematical genius, don’t profess her to be. She’ll know she’s not, and appreciate far more, the comments and compliments on her improvement, that are grounded in reality.
Help her understand why she sometimes gets left out
Rejection is going to be a part of life. So explain to your daughter that sometimes you won’t get invited to the party, or play every game, and that that’s okay. It likely has more to do with the other child than to you.
If she’s struggling with a problem, or trying to figure out how something works, let her struggle for a few minutes even if she asks for help. If she does happen to crack it, she’ll be thrilled, and if she doesn’t, she’s still worked out her mental prowess in the effort of trying.
Get her into sports
There are very little restrictions in sports for girls these days, so let her choose for herself which sports she’s into, and she’ll be far more likely to stick with them. Sports can do wonders in terms of team play, social skills and also just keeping fit and healthy.
Don’t make assumptions about her strengths and weaknesses
Don’t assume that because she’s a girl, she’ll struggle with certain things. It doesn’t mean she’ll be great at reading but as a tradeoff won’t want to go camping. Follow her lead and see where her natural strengths and weaknesses are.
Encourage a healthy body image
In this day and age, it’s a tough ask to compete with the constant bombardment of images of the ‘ideal’, via magazines, music videos, tv and more. Be sure to tell her how beautiful she is and build up her self confidence. Praise her beauty along with her actions, such as combining it with a comment about how fast she was on the field or how beautiful her piano recital performance was.
“It can also be helpful for older girls to hear that models and actresses in magazines don’t really look like that. Let your daughter in on the secret of airbrushing and make it clear that to be that thin really would not be healthy.” // www.babycenter.com.au
Prep for Sexism
Even though it’s much better than it used to be, sexism still exists, and there are many men who think girls can’t do a number of things men can, mostly incorrectly. Make sure she knows that nothing is out of her reach as a girl.
Positive Female Role Models
When watching the news or anything for that matter, be sure to point out positive role models, such as doctors, athletes, great actresses and philanthropists. Having her read books with strong female protagonists is also a great way to transmute the idea.