Australian girls have more opportunities than their mothers and aunties. They’re smashing it in the classroom and stepping up to leadership, fighting for social justice and environmental protection.
On the flipside, many struggle with confidence, resilience, emotional wellbeing and self-worth. More than 55 percent of Australian girls between eight and nine say they are dissatisfied with their body. A quarter of 14 – 15 year-old girls say have had thoughts about self-harming in the previous 12 months. And fifty-one percent of girls say that girls often feel pressured to take ‘sexy’ photos of themselves and share them. Rates of anxiety, depression and eating disorders in girls are enough to send a shiver down any parent’s spine.
If we are going to raise our girls to thrive in a world that is crushing so many of their peers then we need to do something different. Our starting point is getting clear on our goal. Our goal as parents of daughters is to raise girls who like themselves. Why? Because absolutely everything that we hope and dream for our girls starts with raising them to like themselves.
We distilled seven qualities that every girl must have in order to like herself.
- A Power Perspective
This is about having the internal strength and resources to be able to cope with whatever life throws at you, rather than being tossed around by external events. It’s about knowing your own mind, rather than being prey to the views of others.
- Body Confidence
By this, we don’t mean taking fearless, no-filter selfies. It’s about focusing girls on what their body can do, rather than obsessing about appearance.
- Body Ownership
If it’s not harmful and not permanent, she gets to decide. That’s the foundation of body ownership that we focus on when our girls are young so it will help them to navigate the more complex – and potentially threatening situations they will face as teenagers and women.
Girls need space and time to play and be by themselves and get to know who they really are, rather than being ferried from one over-scheduled and structured activity to the next.
- Mastery and Independence
Self-esteem doesn’t grow from being showered with praise and word presents. Real self-esteem grows from mastery, which is earned through struggle. It’s about teaching girls the difference between ‘failing well’ and ‘being a failure’.
- Strong Relationships
We sometimes assume that social skills just develop naturally so they don’t need to be taught. But developing authentic and meaningful relationships is a skill — something that we can nurture. And given the importance of these skills to a meaningful life, we shouldn’t leave it to chance.
A girl who likes herself is herself. Allow girls to grow into the best version of the person they were born to be rather than trying to sculpt them into our, or anyone else’s, pre-conceived vision of success.
If we establish these foundational pillars in our daughters then everything gets easier.
Win a copy of Kasey Edwards and Dr Christopher Scanlon’s book, ‘Raising Girls Who Like Themselves’, HERE.