Girl Power: Building Confidence
Develop Strong Communication
By Leigh Felesky
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Many would agree, nothing is more important than being able to communicate with your daughter. After all, if you don’t know her hopes, dreams and fears, it’s difficult to give her the tools she needs to build confidence and be positive. “10 Ways to Help Instill Self-Confidence in Girls” from the Girl Scouts reminds us, “They [girls] want adults to listen and take them seriously,” so it’s important to actively listen to girls’ voices, opinions, and ideas. The Girl Scouts add: “Provide girls with a safe place where they can discuss real issues.” A safe place requires a trusting, confidential environment.
Wiseman also has some practical advice in this area. “Anytime your teen daughter wants to talk, drop everything and pay attention,” she recommends. You’re ready to talk when she’s ready to talk…Show her that you’re a good resource and non-judgmental listener. Develop realistic strategies to confront her problem effectively.” General communication rules include affirming your daughter’s feelings (for example, saying, “I can understand why you feel that way” or “That must have been awful”), not trying to fix all her problems but empowering her to do so and giving her ownership of what she does.
Of course, don’t just get involved only when there’s a problem. Wiseman also suggests you mark regular get-togethers in your calendar—and never break them. “The younger your daughter is when you start these one-on-one conversations, the more she’ll see that you’re someone she can turn to when she needs support.”
Beyond interpersonal communication, gender studies researchers often argue that girls’ and women’s language tends to be more self-deprecating than men’s. In other words, girls and women are more hesitant in their speech and look for approval for comments by saying, “That was a good movie, wasn’t it?” more than men. Having said that, most adolescents—boys and girls—could learn a thing or two in the speech category. Public speaking, the debate team, even the spelling bee can build confidence, vocabulary and delivery. The key to success here is to tailor the activities you encourage to your daughter’s interests and sense of fun.