How to Raise a Confident Daughter
With cyber bullying, sexy tween stars and an ever-present pressure to be thin, real moms talk about bringing up girls in today's world.
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My daughter is 6 and stronger than me in many ways. She's the first one in line for a scary roller coaster, the loudest singer in any group, and doesn't give a rip if her floral top doesn't match her polka dot pants. When we had to switch schools in the middle of her first-grade year, her response was, "I'm excited!" (As for me, I break out in nervous sweats on the way to a cocktail party.) I don't know where she gets the spunk, but I'm terrified it's going to disappear—that one day, I'll wake up and my daughter will be too timid to raise her hand in class or worried about the size of her belly.
Is there something I can do to keep her self-esteem high and her outlook upbeat? For guidance, I talked to experts, as well as other moms (and one dad) to find out how they're making sure girls develop—and keep—their confidence.
1. Put Princess in Perspective
When your girl clamors for a product that makes you cringe (Hello, vampy Monster High dolls), have an honest conversation about what you see. "We don't participate in the Disney Princess industrial complex," says Lorelei, mother to Elle, 5. "But sometimes she'll bring princess books home from the library, so we'll read it and talk about the message—like how Ariel gave up her voice for a guy and Belle fell for someone who doesn't treat her nicely." Joyce McFadden, author of Your Daughter's Bedroom: Insights for Raising Confident Women, says that sharing your values is crucial for a child: “It helps her to think critically about her world, which is ultimately the most helpful lesson."
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