International Women’s Day is a wonderful time for parents to celebrate the achievements of girls and women with their children. Reflecting on how we raise girls every day can help you encourage confidence and high self-esteem in your child.
Despite the adverse impact the pandemic has had on global economies and on women with caring responsibilities, the number of women holding senior leadership positions has risen, according to Grant Thornton International’s annual Women in Business Report.
In the UK, women now hold 34% of mid-market senior leadership roles, up +5pp since 2020 and 93% of UK mid-market businesses have a least one woman in a senior management role (+3pp above the global average). This progress has been slow, but it is a step in the right direct.
So how do we raise girls to be strong, confident future leaders?
It is so easy to fall into a pattern of praising a girl’s appearance (“You look so pretty!”), labelling her behaviour as “good,” or congratulating her when she does something perfectly. Instead, embrace the concept of a growth mindset, and celebrate your daughter’s mistakes and failures. Confidence in your daughter will grow if she’s able to take risks, knowing that the outcome may not be perfect, and she will be loved and celebrated for her effort, regardless of the ultimate achievement.
Likewise, parents may fall into a trap of calling an opinionated girl ‘bossy’ with a tone of disdain. However, those strong opinions are the budding leadership skills of a possible future CEO! Encourage your daughter to speak up for herself and others, starting in your own home. When she expresses a strong opinion about something or disagrees with you, you can build up her confidence by really listening to her opinion without immediately dismissing it. By showing that her thoughts and ideas have value, you are setting her up to have the courage and confidence to express her ideas in future classrooms and boardrooms.
Encourage your daughter to engage in physical play with safe risk-taking. Climbing trees, getting muddy, and playing sports at a young age build confidence in the power and strength of her body.
Even for young girls, commercials and media influences seep in to everyday life. Your daughter will absorb messages about what girls should look like or how they should behave. As a parent, your best defence against these messages is to proactively dissect them with your child. When a commercial comes on during a TV show or online video, pause and ask your daughter, “What is this ad selling? How does this ad compare to our real life?”
Become aware of gender stereotypes presented in the media your family consumes. Fill your home with books, toys, and décor that do not conform to specific gender roles (e.g., buy books about female construction workers and encourage girls to engage in math and science activities). Try to eliminate gender-based references to your child, such as ‘princess’ or ‘tomboy’ or phrases such as “Young ladies don’t behave that way.”
If you are a woman raising a girl, you are clearly a role model for the woman your daughter will become. You have the opportunity to model resilience, strength, and confidence during challenging moments.
If you are a man raising a daughter, be mindful of any gender stereotypes in your family home life.
Here’s to raising self-assured, resilient girls who will be our future problem-solvers and leaders!
Inspiring strong voices, boosting self-confidence, encouraging risks, and celebrating differences — it’s all part of raising a girl.
Who does your daughter want to be when she grows up? How can you help her get there?
On this Teach. Play. Love. podcast episode, Rachel Robertson and Claire Goss — early childhood experts and proud girl mums - talk about everything from setting up your home to tackle gender stereotypes, to helping girls fulfill their full potential, and more.