Girl power. It might be all around us right now, but times are still tough for our daughters as they grow up. 

In the age of social media, raising girls to have high self-esteem can sometimes seem like an impossible task. Recent research has shown that girls are more likely than boys to be negatively affected by the barrage of images telling them they need to look a certain way, online bullying, and lack of sleep from constant scrolling. As part of the study, University College London reported that three-quarters of girls by the age of 14 are unhappy with the way they look. 

Low confidence is one of the biggest obstacles to success, so working on our daughters’ self-esteem from a young age is important. Here are ten ways you can build confidence and resilience in your daughter.

1. Encourage confidence-building hobbies and activities
Self-esteem comes from a belief in your abilities and it’s important for girls to learn what they are good at and what they enjoy. Extracurricular hobbies and activities are a brilliant way to uncover their talents and passions and help them to express themselves. Make sure you support your daughter with whatever she’s into – whether that’s martial arts, drama or drawing. 

2. Don’t just praise your daughter for her appearance

We often tell girls that they look ‘pretty’ as the default way to give them praise and we tend to naturally praise boys for the things they do. Try to balance the compliments you give your daughter by giving her two encouraging comments about her actions for every one you give her about her appearance. 

3. Give her strong female role models to look up to

In a social media-driven world full of influencers and reality TV stars, it’s easy for girls to perceive that success is attributed to your looks rather than your achievements. Make sure that your daughter has relatable female role models that she can look up to. Get your female friends in top jobs to explain to her what they do – hopefully, this will inspire her to be ambitious about her future too.

Build confidence and resilience in your daughter

4. Rewrite the story

Be mindful about the books and films you are watching together. Stories about women are so frequently about finding love, whereas stories about men are about adventure. Look out for strong female narratives – whether that’s the stories of fictional characters like Elsa from Frozen or historical heroines such as Rosa Parks.    

5. Focus your praise on her efforts rather than performance 

Teaching girls to accept failure is an important part of building confidence. It’s all about giving her the confidence to keep trying, so remember to praise her for the effort she’s put in and not just the outcome. Reflect together on what happened and put a focus on all the positive things she’s learned along the way.  

6. Teach her to speak up

It’s important to teach our daughters how to assert themselves. When voicing their ideas in the classroom, girls often use caveats such as: “I’m not sure if this is right” or “I hope this is ok”. This lack of confidence usually stems from negative thoughts girls have about not really deserving success. Make sure you’re teaching your daughter positive language and to believe in her assertions.

7. Find a school setting that will build confidence and resilience in your daughter

The traditional school of thought is that girls perform better in single-sex education. However, girls may suffer emotionally and socially in an all-girls environment for many different reasons. Without the presence of boys in the classroom, there can be a lot of pressure to compete, which can cause girls to underperform. A co-ed school that will build confidence and resilience in your daughter, such as Elstree School in Berkshire, could be a better option for her.


8. Mix up her friendship groups

Single-sex education also creates a divide that doesn’t exist in society. It’s important that girls see boys as equals, so they have the confidence to work alongside them when they leave school. If your daughter is not studying in a co-ed environment, make sure she has mixed friendship groups outside of school. 

9. Make sure she knows she can do anything

Remind her that it’s not only boys who are good at STEM subjects or can excel at sports. In the UK, there’s still only one in seven roles in science, technology, engineering and maths held by a woman, so encourage her to follow her dreams if she has ambitions to work in a sector that’s traditionally dominated by men. 

10. Let her know being a girl is great 

Ride the feminism wave together and champion the sisterhood. Talk to her honestly about the challenges women can face, such as juggling motherhood and a career, but also remind her of all the amazing things about being a girl. 

To find out more about Elstree School, click here

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