Monday, March 26, 2012

Raising Confident Girls

Robi's article can be read here. The interview is below. Enjoy! --LKR

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6 Tips for Raising a Confident Daughter

Psychologist Robi Ludwig says parents can help their young girls grow up to be strong women by acknowledging their strengths, sharing their passions, and pointing out positive female role models.

This morning on "Parenting Today," raising confident girls. Every parent wants her daughter to grow up to be strong, smart, and successful women. But in a world filled with mixed messages that often highlights beauty over brains, parenting a young woman can be daunting. Here with some advice is psychologist Robi Ludwig, contributor to Good morning, Robi.

Good morning.

So much to talk about here. I'm very interested in this as the father of a young girl. We do put an awful lot of emphasis on appearance in our society.

It's true. In fact, did a survey and found what adjectives did mothers use when describing their daughters. You're beautiful. So clearly, listen, we live in a world where beauty does count. But if that's the only message your send to your child it's a dangerous one because really, we're comparing ourselves to images at one point that aren't even really real. And you don't want to give your child that there's only one trait that matters.

So how do you fight what's happening in society? Because as you say the reality is you go out into the world and people will judge a woman on her looks. You open up magazines, it's all about appearance. How do you fight that?

You have to remember that as a parent, your voice counts. In fact, it lives inside your child for the rest of their lives. So if you help your daughter understand that, yes, looks are important, but often what they're comparing themselves to are airbrushed images or there are many successful people in the world who are not only attractive, but they're smart, and confident, then that message will get through to your child.

And maybe when you're giving a compliment to your daughter lead with smart.

And also confident. so when you're looking at your daughter, point out, you know, "I really like how thoughtful you are with your friends". Or, "Wow, you are such a great cook". or "Oh, you're so organized. In fact, you're more organized than Mommy". You're pointing out things that she's good at. And you're noticing her strengths. And really, part of having high self-esteem is knowing what you're confident and good at.

I love the second one. Share your daughter's passion. Explain that one.

You want to plug in to what your daughter likes. And this sends the message, what she likes and what she is turned on by really matters to you. So you really are following your daughter's lead and you're also sending the message, "You don't need to be exactly like Mommy and Daddy. You can be like yourself, and have your own interests, and we will follow those interests and expose you to those interests".

And expand into some fields dominated by boys like science.

Math and science and we're seeing women, you know, representing all areas these days, which is terrific.

Your next tip, teach her to claim her own strengths with pride.


What does that mean?

Men are really good at this. But sometimes little girls or women have a hard time saying, "You know what, I'm really great with vocabulary". Or "I'm a fabulous reader". or "I'm a fabulous runner". You don't want to necessarily encourage them to say it to every single person that they meet. But basically have a knowledge of themselves. It''s wonderful because they're going to need it in terms of going out into the world and being resilient. And the person who is confident about the many areas that they have strengths in, they tend to be the more humble people.

Now, what's the best way for a parent, a father like me, to be supportive when a young girl is struggling with her self-esteem, maybe hearing things at school from friends that are making her feel bad about herself. What can I do as a dad?

Well, listening is learning. You basically want to listen to your child, remind her of all of her strengths and why she is special, remind her how you are there for her as a parent. and you may want to tell a story about something that happened to you in childhood or somebody who's prominent, who went through something similar and came out the other end. But basically the job of a parent is to help your child make sense of what's going on in their lives.

We're running out of time. But I want to get to point out positive female role models that we see in public. But also incorporate everyone in your daughter's circle. family, friends. How do you pull that off?

Basically, tell your baby sitters, your extended family, that you want your child to know that she's smart and to identify the areas in which she's good at. It's not just about beauty. It's the total package, a person that feels good about themselves. It starts in the home and they know that there are lots of areas that they're good at and strong.

Great advice. And you said the right thing. Parents have the strongest voice.

They really do. It lives on forever. so your voice counts the most.

Robi, thanks so much. Great to talk to you this morning.

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