In our earlier article, we saw why an involved Dad playing an important part in a daughter’s life is important for her self esteem as she grows up.
In continuation with the first part of the article, let’s explore some perfectly ‘doable’ and fun action steps for fathers to help pump up their teenage daughter’s self-esteem and confidence.
Yes, it is as simple as just showing up. Get involved in your teenager’s life right now. Don’t pass the buck to her Mom. Better late than never! She needs to know that you are there as a witness in all her little big achievements – her school performances, sport matches etc. Give her the opportunity to ‘show off’ to you when you ‘show up’ for her.
The precious act of listening to your daughter is simply priceless. It is very important to practise the art of active listening without voicing out your opinions and judgements. She needs to feel that she can trust you with her problems and you will understand and empathise with her. Doing so, will help her trust her own gut, build her self-awareness and thus, raising her confidence.
Give your teenager the freedom to explore, experiment and enjoy what she gravitates towards – her Mojo!
So,what is your teenager naturally drawn towards? What is her mojo that keeps her truly happy, passionate and satisfied?
Fathers, find your daughter’s mojo and explore avenues to help her utilise her natural gifts. This will tremendously boost her self-esteem and confidence. It is crucial to your daughter that you, her father acknowledges her natural passion. Else, she might start doubting her own strengths and gifts.
Your teenage girl is delicately growing into a young woman and her self-esteem is fragile at this stage.
Dads, the words you speak to your daughters have a lasting and powerful impact on them. Use it to make them, not break them. Your words are a reflection of your beliefs about them. What you believe about your daughter shows up in what you say to them and about them. Your daughter internalises everything that you say and starts to believe it.
Use positive words of love, encouragement and inspiration. Make sure you look into her eyes and mean all those wonderful things you say to her. Remember, your daughter sees her self-worth in your eyes.
It is important to your teenage daughter that you, her father, loves her for the person that she is and not for the achiever in her. The last thing you want is for her to constantly perform as the only way to get your precious love and attention. Irrespective of her wins or losses in life, she needs to feel valued and loved for the person she is.
While it does mean a lot to your daughter that you, her father appreciates her hard work and performance! It means a lot more to her, when you focus on the character traits that make up her personality. Praise and love her for her honesty, kindness, congeniality, ethics, courage etc. And, she will surely grow up to be a self-assured and resilient person irrespective of the ‘ups and downs’ in life.
Girls’s brains are physiologically differently from boys when it comes to risk-taking and fearing making mistakes. Thank the impact of hormones! Dads, you can do your teenage girl a big favour by constantly challenging her to come out of their comfort zone. Especially through her childhood and teen years because that is when her brain is the most elastic.
The surprisingly good news is that this will completely rewire her brain structure enabling her to take more risks later on in life. Your daughter will confidently take up challenges and risks without the fear of failure.
‘Daddy’s little girl’ might sound cutesy. But in reality, overprotecting her and treating her like a delicate flower isn’t helping – rather hurting her. Resist the temptation to be her ‘knight in shining armour’ each time she falls.
This might sound like a stereotype but men usually like to be the problem solvers. Resist your natural manly urge and let your daughter take charge of her problems. Encourage her by asking her how she would resolve her problems, come up with possible solutions, weigh their pros and cons, find the appropriate solution, and face life’s challenges head on.
Teach her to change a car tire, make her financially literate and wise, encourage her to be physically fit and strong, educate her about the dangers of the real world including sex offenders, enrol her in martial arts or any kind of self-defence training.
Dr. Linda Nielsen, adolescent psychologist and author insists that it’s high time to dispel the stereotype that women should avoid confrontation at all costs. Her advice for young girls? “To accept and embrace their anger and assertiveness.”
She says, “While this does not mean indulging her temper, it’s important that when there is conflict, a father engage with his daughter, instead of allowing the mother to step in as an intermediary. A girl has to be really comfortable expressing her anger and being assertive. If she can’t do it with her dad, she won’t be able to do it with a male boss, boyfriend, all the way down the line. A father needs to ‘receive’ her anger and assertiveness rather than punish her for it. He can also compliment her for expressing herself honestly and assertively.”
Fathers, don’t raise your teenage girl to be a passive ‘pleaser’. Also, enrolling your teenage daughter in sports is a wise decision as it will teach her the quality of assertiveness.
You have to believe in your heart that your daughter can do anything that she sets her mind and heart to. On the lines of the 90’s TV cook show ‘If Yan can cook, so can you’, teach her the golden nugget of truth, ‘If a man can, so can she’. Show your daughter this inspiring video on Indian women who have broken all gender stereotypes laid down by the society.
We will continue with more action steps for fathers to help build their teenage daughter’s self-esteem in the next, final part of the article.
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