5 Conversations We MUST Have with Our Daughters, and Books to Help You Start Them
Here are a few shocking statistics you may not know: self-esteem peaks in girls around age 9, then, steadily declines. 75% of 8 and 9-year-old girls said they liked themselves in a survey conducted by the American Association of University Women. That figured dropped to 56% by age 12. 33% of eating disorders begin between the ages of 11 and 15, and one-third of girls in grades nine to twelve think they are overweight. More than half of those are actively attempting to lose weight.
What’s more, 60% of girls believe they’re not as smart as their peers. Thousands are bullied. Children with self-esteem problems are three times more likely to engage in early sexual activity and four times more likely to smoke or drink alcohol.
With facts as terrifying as these, it’s imperative we start conversations with our daughters on self-worth as young as possible. Here are five conversations every girl should have with a parent.
1. You’re Exactly Who You’re Meant to Be.
We’re all extraordinary. Think of the biology behind it; a few cells combined and suddenly a human is created. For the next 9 months we develop into a tiny version of ourselves. I’m not sure about you, but all three of my kids had their own personalities from a very young age.
Welcome it. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side. In fact, it rarely is.
This is a great book written to help teach children about the value of finding happiness within themselves.
2. Your Mistakes Do Not Define You
I’m the first to admit- I struggle with this concept daily. I know I’m supposed to learn and move on, but I’ve yet to realize how to do that.
From the time my oldest daughter, now 11, had her first meltdown I’ve tried my best to instill in her that mistakes are just that, mistakes. We all make them. It’s how we grow. Our children will color outside the lines. They will forget to do their homework. They will hurt someone’s feelings. While disappointing, it’s our responsibility as parents to help them grow from these mistakes, and to not dwell on them. It is just as important to teach them to forgive themselves as it is to teach them right from wrong. This combination of lessons is the ultimate approach to encouraging a developing mind.
Life is filled with mistakes. Long after we’ve mastered the art of honesty and integrity we still make them. While we still must put significant energy into helping our daughters understand what is right and what is wrong, it’s imperative that we also teach them self-love.
Try this book written to teach kids that mistakes are just a part of being a human, and there is a lesson in each mistake we make.
3. It’s Important to Make Amends
While forgiveness is important, it’s equally necessary to make amends. Teach them a strong apologetic nature when they’ve hurt someone. “I’m sorry” can become dull and insincere. Help them acknowledge what they did was wrong and ask how they can help make it right.
Girls can be exceptionally hurtful in adolescence. My daughter, for instance, has already been bullied. Please understand, we should never stand by and teach our children to accept meanness as a fact of life, but it does present a unique opportunity to talk about our own decisions and the repercussions, as well as an opportunity to encourage kindness.
Check out this book for lessons in how we all need to forgive and be forgiven:
4. Be Your Own Kind of Beautiful
Every woman I have ever met has struggled with body image. I’m no exception. In fact, I personally struggled through an eating disorder as a teenager. My poor self-esteem encouraged drug and alcohol use, and ultimately a very abusive romantic relationship.
I do not want that for my daughter, and I can’t imagine you do either.
One of the most important things we can do to instill self-confidence in our daughter’s is to be positive about our own bodies. I’m still working on this one, and I fear it will be an eternal effort for me. Examining ourselves in the mirror while nitpicking what makes us one-of-a-kind shows our daughter’s that they should do the same. Lead by example. Tell yourself how beautiful you are. Every stretch mark is yours. That muffin top, magnificent.
I’ve also started the habit of having my daughter stand in front of the mirror and tell me three things she likes about herself every day. She can’t repeat the same thing twice for at least a week. I believe having her note delightful things intentionally helps counter the negativity I’m certain she feels.
Finally, teach them to embrace themselves. It’s okay to like the things they like, no matter what other people think. Be who you want to be, your own kind of beautiful, and be confident in who you are.
Here is a great book about beauty. It’s more than skin deep.
5. You’re Not Supposed to Be Perfect
We, as adults, know all to well that we can’t be everything, for everyone, all the time. We (logically) understand that we aren’t supposed to be, either.
Every child, just like every adult, has a unique set of gifts and talents. There will be things they do much better than their peers. Likewise, there will be things they struggle to do well. That’s okay. That is by design. If we were all amazing singers, would there be entertainment value in a musical artist? I’d say no.
Our strengths, as well as weaknesses, are what define us as unique people. They are what separate us and make us distinctive. We should encourage individuality in our children; it’s what creates resiliency when we face life’s challenges.
This one illustrates that we’re all worth loving, despite our imperfections.
About the Author
Laura Kuehl moved to Appleton, Wisconsin from the Madison area. She holds a B.A. in Criminal Justice Client Services, and spent several years working for a local domestic violence agency before deciding to become a full time stay-at-home-mom. She runs a local mom’s networking and support group, and serves avidly on the PTO. Passionate about helping people, Laura has decided to continue advocating for families by writing books for children with an uplifting message. In her spare time, Laura enjoys spending time with her husband and three beautiful children. She also enjoys thrifting, reading, and gardening.
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