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Most parents will agree that the world in which we live is so much more different to what they were used to growing up. Technology has had the most impact on our world – both positively and negatively. I think the impact is more noticeable on our kids, especially when you observe them on their on mobile phones and computers.
So here are a few tips to help you instil confidence in your girls, as they navigate our fast-changing world. I do hope you find these tips as helpful as I do.
1. Mothers model positive body image
Mothers have more influence on their daughters than they think. Your child may not always listen to what you say but they are excellent at observing everything you do. That is why role play is such as a powerful form of learning. When it comes to tweens and teens, this is even more important, so mothers be mindful of what you say about your body and your attitude towards food.
2. Understand the power of the media.
The media is the most powerful channel for advertisers because they use it to sell products and services. Similarly, this same channel can be used to transmit negative messages to girls about their bodies. Television teaches children about sex, identity and how they should dress. It is very important that your daughter can understand the purpose of the media and to be media savvy. She does not have to consume every content that comes her way. Having a television in a child’s room is debateable and personally, I prefer a TV-free bedroom. However, if you opt for a TV in your child’s room, make sure it is programmed to age-appropriate content which is easily achievable with most smart TVs these days.
3. A team sport is great for girls.
It is good to start team sports early, as research shows that girls who play team sports such as Netball, Hockey and Basketball have a higher level of self-esteem and confidence. This is because it helps them to feel valued as part of a team instead of looking for approval from boys. Team sport is especially good for girls because winning and losing teaches resilience. Also, even women who take up team sports later in life still benefit from the same emotional wellbeing and confidence gained by being part of a team. Some would argue that the competitive edge you develop from playing team sports can help boost your career prospects. I use to think some children are sporty and others are not, but having my own children has taught me that children are simply a product of their environment. If you focus on a particular discipline such as athletics or dance, then eventually they will soon grasp it. Unfortunately, finding a suitable team sport for girls in the UK is not easy. One of my daughters is keen to join a netball club so I did a search on Google, and I was pleasantly surprised to discover a few clubs near me.
4. Social Media – a hot potato!
I think most parents will agree that this is a huge concern. This is not an easy area to navigate but parents must have the advantage. My youngest daughter was allowed to have a mobile phone in Year 6, at the age of 10. I felt this was too young but finally gave in to the whingeing. This is because she complained that a mobile phone was the main method her friends communicated. Even though, I felt it was too early, other children in her class received their mobile phones long before her. Young people communicate with each other and consume vast amounts of online content via their mobile phone. Online bullying and grooming are the negative aspects of social media and parents must be aware of the signs. Sometimes as parents we feel powerless to change the status quo but that does not have to be the case. Remember that children do not work and cannot afford to buy these phones – so you have more influence than you think. It is up to parents to find out more about parental controls and ways to restrict access to inappropriate apps. Read more about this at NSPCC - Use Parental Controls to Keep Your Child Safe | NSPCC
5. Girls must use their voice!
Inspire your daughter to use her voice to stand up for what she needs and wants. It is very important that your daughter learns to use her voice from a young age. You may have to offer her options, so she feels empowered to make a choice. For example, do you want to wear the yellow dress or blue dress? Teach her to make a choice and stick with it. This becomes even more important when she starts secondary school and peer pressure kicks in. Your daughter must not worry about not being liked if she speaks up, as this is all part of growing up. Young girls must know early that their voice counts and what they say is of value. This is also an area that can be developed in young girls who are shy or find it difficult to express their feelings. Enrolling your little girl into performing arts early will really help them develop confidence in this area, as well as writing about things that concern her. But most importantly I think practice makes perfect – the more you use your voice the more you grow in confidence. Encourage your daughter to have a voice at home, school and wherever she goes. When it comes to peer pressure, she has a choice to lead from the front and do the right thing or follow the herd and do the wrong thing!
I love to know how you have inspired confidence in your little girl. Please kindly leave your comments.
MediaSmart – Education from the Advertising Industry; https://mediasmart.uk.com/
Raising Girls in the 21st Century, a book by Steve Biddulph