The secret to raising a smart, stylish and sweet girl is giving her the confidence to be who she wants to be. Embracing a child's independent spirit is not easy, and it's even harder as a mom to nurture it.
Here are five ways moms can help their daughters become happy young women.
1. Be a Cheerleader
It's easy to praise a good job or say your daughter is pretty, but what girls need to hear is not just surface praise, but specifics. Tell her you are proud she finished a task or that she was able to ask for help. Let her know it makes you happy when you see her act kindly to toward others.
2. Be a Playmate
Let go of being in charge and get in some real playtime. Play dolls? Get out your fun clothes and play dress-up-fashion-model-clothing-designer. Showing your girl that mom can not only embrace the fun and funky but also celebrate the independent spirit of creation. It sends the message that it is okay to be who you want to be. Tell her that you love what she creates because it shows her that you want to take the time to figure out what kind of person she is. When you compliment these aspects of her personality, it reinforces the confidence she is already building for herself.
3. Be Her Mirror
Tell her that she is beautiful! Really, say the words. You don't have to ignore your daughter's appearance, just find a way to notice her that also compliments her mind. Focus on the way she puts an outfit together or the choice she made to create a beautiful hairstyle. Praise the way she carries herself and not just how "pretty" she looks.
4. Be Different
Daughters feel pressure to be like mom. It is not easy for moms to see, but sometimes they can push their girls to "like what mom likes." Let her know you see the difference between the two of you, and that you appreciate how she has opinions of her own. When she hears that you admire her ability to create an outfit for her doll or design a fun hairstyle for herself, it encourages her to believe in her own ideas.
5. Be Careful
"Pretty" is not a bad word, but sometimes it is easier to say "smart" or "creative" or "kind." Whether it's figuring out where to put a puzzle piece, giving a friend a hug or helping a baby girl identify her nose, telling her she's smart will sink in. Young daughters love to copy their mothers, so as she hears you praise her, she eventually she will mimic your words in her own internal dialogue.
As humans, we are all more comfortable with people who see things the way we do. When it comes to raising daughters, it is about giving them the freedom and encouragement to create their own style and the self-esteem to feel good about expressing it.