How to raise a happy, strong and confident daughter
In a world of selfies, social media and celebrity culture, raising strong and confident daughters is more important than ever. Especially when the Dove Global Beauty & Confidence Report(PDF) (995 KB) found that more than half of girls around the globe don’t feel good about the way they look. As parents, it makes sense to be concerned – low body image is associated with lower grades, poor concentration and girls struggling to put themselves forward as leaders. Not only that, eight out of ten girls with low body confidence may avoid friends or family and 70% may stop themselves eating. We know this sounds daunting, but don’t panic: it’s never too late – or too early – to start raising confident daughters.
Watch your words
If you’re wondering how to raise a happy confident daughter, observe what you say. “Constantly talking negatively about our bodies can reinforce the idea that there is only one type of body shape that is beautiful,” says body image advocate and podcaster Jess Weiner. “It’s a pattern we have to break if we want our children to grow up to be confident about the bodies they’ve got.”
Rethink your own body talk
Exercising self-compassion about your own body will have a positive impact on raising a daughter too. Try this: if you say a negative thing about your body, counter it with a positive. And encourage your daughter to do the same. So if you critique your thighs, remind yourself that your body is doing a great job of carrying you around. Respect it for what it does, rather than how it looks.
Praise her personality
Try to avoid commenting on your daughter’s appearance. Non-physical compliments are so important to build body confidence and there are many ways to show you’re proud of her – and reasons she should feel proud of herself – which don’t have anything to do with looks. Perhaps she did something kind or creative, or made you laugh. Tell her!
Have the social media chat
Four out of five girls say they compare the way they look to other people online. To help avoid the comparison trap, try reminding your daughter why she is unique. Then talk to her about how social media filters are impacting body confidence and image, and encourage her to unfollow anyone who makes her feel bad.
Helping others can help your daughter feel good about herself too. For teens, why not suggest volunteering? A study published in the Journal of Adolescence found that altruistic behavior can improve teenagers’ self-worth – particularly when they help strangers. Additionally, volunteering has also been found to boost social connections, relieve loneliness and improve overall wellbeing.
Switch off screens
Once your screens are turned off, head outside with your daughter. From hikes to bike rides, physical activity increases self-esteem, reduces stress and boosts energy. Meanwhile, being in nature has been found to enhance mental wellbeing and improve body image. Plus, quality time together will give you a chance to find out what your daughter thinks – often the most important thing you can do when raising daughters is to listen to them.