How to instill confidence in daughters

Confidence is a much-needed trait in everyone. It is also one that is inadvertently missing in most girls. It is for parents to instil confidence in their daughters. So, how do parents incorporate confidence in their daughters?

I think I am aptly qualified to address this issue. I am a confident woman, and I have successfully raised a confident daughter. There are many lessons that I learned through the course of my life, which helped in making me the confident woman that I am. I did not carve a path for myself, my journey was destined. I say so because I did not have to rebel or stand up for my rights. I was given my due without me having to demand it, and I think every girl and every woman deserves the same.

I have my parents to thank for they gave me the same opportunities as they did to my brother. They were protective, but they didn't shackle me. They showed faith in my abilities, instilled values in me, gave me an education and showed implicit trust in me. It is because of all their efforts that I am able to hold my own and face challenges head-on.

My experiences have taught me a tremendous lot. Among all my achievements I think the one that I am the proudest of is raising a single girl child, to be an achiever. This can be possible only when parents instil confidence in their girls.

Gender biases

Gender inequality is prevalent in all societies. Women are made to feel inferior everywhere. There are biases at home, which we attribute to our social customs and our traditions. However, there are biases at the workplace as well.

Women take home 20% less salary than their male counterparts. This is based on studies done across the globe. Ironically, it is a global phenomenon. Employers do not think their female employees' contributions deserve the same remuneration as the male employees. Let's face it women and their contributions are undervalued.

Why stereotype girls

There are a number of videos making the rounds where little girls are seen standing up against the stereotype for girls, created by society. There is one video where a young girl is seen questioning why all the girly stuff, in the store, was pink. Another girl questions why girls have to play with only dolls – girls like to play with other stuff too, she says. Yet another girl speaks of all superheroes being men.

A study I read fairly recently concludes that when girls are little, they think of themselves as equal to boys. However, by the time they turn six, their thinking changes and they begin to look at men as more intelligent and better at decision making.

This, unfortunately, is the impact of what they see around them. The books they read or are read to, do nothing to boost their morale. All fairy tales show princesses as damsels in distress and the prince as the knight in shining armour. There are no compelling stories that show girls as achievers. We, as a society provide no role models for a little girl. Instead, they are taught to look up to the opposite sex. We need to stop this. We need to create a society of equals.

And we can do this by affirming their strengths and abilities when they are young. We need to tell girls that they are as special and as able as all the boys. We need to make them look beyond the stereotype and make them believe in themselves and their dreams. Every little girl can conquer the world, if only we let them. They can stand up for themselves if we stop being their crutches. They can soar high, only if we don't hold them back.

Stop sending out wrong messages

Women are a product of behaviour. They become what is expected of them. Does a little girl want to be timid and soft spoken? Perhaps not – but she grows into a submissive woman, because that is the behaviour which is expected of her. Rarely do we see a girl who speaks her mind being referred to as confident. We as a society are quick to judge and label her as impetuous, discourteous and a bad influence. We don't see the need to give her the space to grow, to voice her opinions to speak for herself and to decide for herself.

As a first step, girls must be told positive things about themselves. Negative actions and statements that lower their self-esteem should be shunned.

Society wants little girls to believe things about themselves. It has been going on for generations. But, who made these rules? There is so much change happening around us, yet the status of women has remained more or less the same. We have fixed expectations of our girls and from our women. Her being a professional, drawing a hefty pay package is insignificant – she still needs to be the one who manages the kitchen and the other household chores. Women may grow professionally, but their personal lives are still controlled by circumstances.

I brought my daughter up differently. I didn't bother with the norms that society set. These are the lessons I taught her –

Value education

I (and my husband) taught her the value of education. We taught her that the first step to big things is through education. She learned quite young that the world presents a fierce competition. And to succeed she has to beat all her competitors.

Dream with open eyes

She was taught that she could be whatever she chooses to be. We would have supported her no matter which career path she picked. I always speak to her about setting goals. And the conversation leads to (and has always led to) how she'd achieve them. I help her chalk out her dreams. She then works at making them a reality.

My husband has over the years had just one piece of advice for her –"Do what you do, do well", this meant there should be no half measures, no short cuts and no half-hearted attempts.

Who you are, matters

I never let physical appearance be a priority. While other mothers kept their daughters indoors, mine would be in the swimming pool in the middle of the day, mastering her strokes and dives. Or she'd be in the channel practising scuba diving or sailing. Her getting tanned was not something I worried about. What counted was her picking skills that she wanted to master.

She learned young that her physical appearance is secondary. What she makes of her life is what counts.

In contrast, other girls, her age were being taught to preserve and enhance their physical appearance. The message that they were uncannily receiving was that they were beautiful as long as their physical appearance was beautiful. They learned to be objectified, even before they became young adults.

Be independent

My girl was taught to be independent – to be her own person. She was taught to do things by herself and not be reliant on others. When she was young she would do small chores that maybe other fathers would do – like pump air in her bicycle. She learned not to be dependent on a man. She learned that she can take care of herself.

You are important

It is very important to teach a girl child that she is as significant as any male. In our house, we eat together. Unlike most homes where men are served before the women eat. We taught her that she is an equal, and she is important.

Gender equality

My daughter can do things that boys do, with equal élan – be it dunking a basketball or riding a bike or jumping a fence. Some might term her a tomboy. But, she can also cook, wash and clean.

She wasn't taught cooking because she was a girl. It wasn't part of the gender prescribed training. She picked up cooking because she wanted to.

Have a voice

It is important that girls are allowed to speak, to have an opinion, to be able to say what is on their mind. We season them so much with how they must and must not behave that we churn out replicas of womankind. Any girl who doesn't conform is seen as an outcast.

We should know that only when they are allowed to speak at home will they raise their voice against injustices in society. We need to stop creating prototypes of the exemplary women. The aim must be to create honest, sincere and hardworking women.

Let work speak

Another important lesson that every girl must be taught is to maintain personal dignity. This is important. No favours and no excuses. They should give their best at whatever they are doing, be it at school or at work. Their work should speak. Them being a woman should never be a reason for either failure or success. They should not use their gender as a stepping stone to reach their goals.

Set boundaries

The world is not a safe place and girls must be taught to set boundaries. The wrong touch, right over their own body, consent – these are issues we shy away from. But, every parent with a little girl must have regular conversations with her to prevent physical and emotional exploitation. When we make these topics taboo we create a barrier between us and the child, and she'll find herself isolated in case of abuse. She'll also be vulnerable to abuse because she will be unaware of the dangers.

Final lesson on confidence

The world attempts to intimidate women because they are regarded inferior or less competent. Remember, confidence goes hand in hand with competency. A competent person is confident. But, women need to prove their mettle and show they mean business. For this, they must be taught to exude confidence.

My military background served well here – I taught my daughter to hold her head high, throw her shoulders back and make eye contact when she meets someone. Body language is a powerful tool that must be used skillfully. The correct body language can shut up detractors and get respect.

Final word to parents

Girls who excel have parents backing and supporting them. You need to show faith and belief in your little girl, only then will she be able to break through the gender barrier. Strengthen her, instead of incapacitating her.

Parents fear that independent and confident girls will not be able to adjust to life. My experience shows that when you inculcate confidence in any individual (not just a girl) they become more responsible. They live by ideals, which include not letting themselves or their dear ones down. They strive to make a success of all that they do, on the personal as well as professional front. They are not torn between two different worlds, and this makes it easy for them to live life on their own terms and making the right decisions.

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Author: K Mohan07 May 2017 Member Level: Platinum   Points : 0

The reply to this article can be well be narrated from my own experience. For that matter for me and my wife, my son and the daughter are same and we never differentiated on any occasions. Right from the day one we have treated them equally. When ever my son would celebrate the birthday and we purchase new clothes for him, we shall purchase new dress to our daughter also. Likewise when we celebrate our daughter birthday, a dress for both would be compulsory. From the childhood we have taught a lesson to both of them not to eat anything without sharing to other and thus their both bonding is sore to the eyes of others in whose home there is always quarrel between brothers and sisters. So what I mean to say here that the way of nurturing the child from the beginning would inculcate great bonding between the siblings and no bias what so ever.

Author: Anauj07 May 2017 Member Level: Diamond   Points : 3


Your example has nothing to do with instilling confidence. What you have described has more to do with love and sharing.

Confidence would be if you treated both kids the same way. For example, if your daughter was taught to do the household chores, your son should have been taught to do the same too. If your daughter can cook, and cooks and does other work at home, so should your son. That is equality and this is a positive step against gender bias. When we assign tasks based on gender we kill the spirit of the girl child.

Most people exhibit equality only in words, but when it comes to real action that counts they treat their son and daughter differently. In my opinion there should be no stereotypes.

Author: DR.N.V. Srinivasa Rao07 May 2017 Member Level: Platinum   Points : 0

Ms.Juana has given a very good account of points to be followed for making the girls to feel confident. It is good.
May be because of parents like Ms.Juana and others, now a days girls are also very confident. There is a lot of change in the parents also. Many parents are treating both sons and daughters equally. In fact in some families I have observed daughters are being given more preference.. All man made inequalities between girl and boy are diminishing. Now a days girls are also able to voice their views very strongly to parents. They are able to express their likes and dislikes. Most people are showing equality or even preferring girls than boys. But still many people has to change. I hope in the coming days the persisting problems will get corrected. In reality also, all will be treated equally, I think.

Author: Anauj30 May 2017 Member Level: Diamond   Points : 4

Change is possible only when parents change the way they look at daughters. Who we become is based largely on how we were raised. Parents must instil confidence in their children, irrespective of their gender. Society also has to change and that change must come from within nuclear families.

Parents must allow and not restrict girls. They must not just protect them but also teach them how to protect themselves. Girls should be allowed to speak at home, only then will have the courage to speak outside. The values we give them are most important – shielding them from the world, only makes them timid. They fail to learn to defend themselves.

Today's newspaper carries a report on how girls have once again outshone the boys in the CBSE & ICSE results. It is a signal that given the right opportunities girls are better than boys.

Guest Author: Lakshmi02 Jun 2017

What a wonderful post! This is exactly my vision of the idealistic independent girl. We shouldn't let biology or society dictate our abilities. And the confidence to surpass these stereotypes should be instilled by parents. Very well said.

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