Looking back on my early teens, I can recall having extreme self-confidence issues. I could barely look other kids in the eyes for fear they would point out one of my, what seemed like, a million and one flaws; my huge, unruly hair, my thick mustache I wasn’t allowed to wax, and my chubby overgrown body. So much of me seemed wrong and it never occurred to me how scary hating myself that much was.
My mom was incredible to me when I was growing up. Not a day went by where she didn’t remind me how beautiful I was to her. I never had a reason to think that I was “ugly;” however, at the time it was extremely hard for me to see what she did. I was constantly seeking approval from my peers, especially boys.
It wasn't until junior year of high school when I finally began to feel confident, not only with my looks but personality as well. I acquired a great group of girl friends who uplifted and supported me. I started taking care of my health and body, and learned to stop taking other people's opinions of myself into account.
Lately, I have been noticing how difficult it is for young girls to learn to be self-confident. With celebrities like Kylie Jenner who change their appearance so easily, just because they aren’t happy with how they look, doesn’t really help the matter. It's heartbreaking to see little girls be unhappy with who they are, because I was in their shoes not too long ago. Here are a few tips on how to raise, or assist raising, the little girls in your life, or future life, to be confident, strong, and powerful.
- Make sure they feel well represented in the media. Buy your little girl’s dolls, toys, and movies with main characters that share similar traits as them. Whether it be hair texture, skin color, body type, or even cultural similarities. Seeing people and items in the media that they see themselves in will remind them that they are not different or outcasts because of how they look. There are other people, even Disney princesses, that look how they do, and that’s pretty cool.
- Teach them how to be assertive. One key component to being a strong woman is assertion. Having a strong demeanor and a firm tone, when necessary of course, can change a lot for girls. It teaches them that they're powerful and have a strong presence in times of confrontation.
- Cultivate their passions. Take strong interest in the things that your daughters like to do. Make them feel special. It's important to let your girls know that the things they do are actually cool and important! It will make them a lot more likely to stick with their hobbies.
- Allow them to fix their own problems. If you take over every situation for your daughter, it won’t allow her to develop problem solving skills. Talk the issue over with her and hear how she would like to overcome the situation. If you disagree, let her know in a constructive and supportive way. She will thank you in the long run for the freedom you gave her to make her own choices.
- SPEAK WELL ABOUT YOURSELF IN FRONT OF THEM. One of my least favorite things to see mothers do is speak poorly of themselves in front of their daughters. If your daughter hears you putting yourself down, she will think that’s normal and will do it herself. Be kind to yourself. It will help your child in the long run.
Although there are so many factors that go into a personality and how someone feels about themselves, I believe this list is a great place to start. Guiding young girls into the right direction can impact their lives so much. Teach, support, love, and nurture strong young women who love themselves and those around them.