Daughters are a gift–they bring indescribable splendor and love into our lives. We watch them grow from infancy, learning, absorbing information, (and putting everything in their mouth). As children, they are adventurous, confident, and they will talk your ear off. As pre-teens and young adults they grow into their own–developing a unique identity, personality, and growing into a mature and independent human being. Girlhood is a beautiful process–but the greatest fear of every parent still lingers. Am I going to screw this child up? Raising girls isn’t easy.
We’re going to look at several stages of girlhood development, and leave you with some suggestions on how to raise your daughter encouraged, empowered, and confident. In a world that often tries to tear women down, it’s our responsibility as parents to build them up!
Safety, Security, and Lots of Love
At this stage, your little girl is totally dependent on you. Although she can’t communicate it yet, she will know instinctively that she is safe, loved, and nurtured. She will carry that feeling inside her always. This age is a time for singing to her, and playing with her. Make her giggle! Babies love to stare at faces at this age, so make sure that she gets lots of face time with you. Also, everything (and I mean everything) will go in her mouth. So be careful what she can reach for.
Exploration, New Interests, Adventure
This age can be rough. As soon as your little girl can walk, all bets are off. You better keep an eye on her, because she will dart away to explore the world at a moment's notice. Children are expert explorers at this age, especially if they feel safe wandering away from Mom and Dad. This is also the age of impulsive actions, and tantrums. When she steals a toy from another kid, it’s not to be mean. When she bites, it isn’t to hurt.
At this age, your child is becoming independent, which means it’s important to start setting boundaries, and practicing discipline. Find ways to teach your little girl right from wrong, and she will thank you for the rest of your life.
At this age, your girl also needs to explore. Don’t shelter your child from experiences. Let her run around outside, scrape her knee, play in the dirt, pick up worms. This is how children learn what is safe, and what isn’t. Bravery is built at this age.
Personality, Personal Interests, and Relationships
This age is when your little girl will discover her personal interests–ones that will develop who she is, how she identifies, and what she might do later in life! She will also start learning how to get along with others, and start making best friends at school. Early on, she will learn how to share, and how to build relationships with other kids.
At this age, you want to encourage a strong identity and self confidence in your girl. In social situations, she can be a leader or a follower. She can either lead with good behavior, or imitate bad behavior from other kids. So try to raise a leader! A girl who learns to stand up for herself and make her voice heard at this age will be a leader all her life!
This age is also a time for personal interests to blossom. Maybe your girl will discover she loves art, music, or dance. Maybe she is into math, engineering, and science. Whatever her interest is, help her to grow in it! Take her to karate classes, art classes, or help her create science experiments. Developing skills at this age will give her a head start!
Identity, Adolescence, and Puberty
This age range is a rollercoaster. Where did all the time go? At this age, your baby will be coming into her identity. She will start to have a strong sense of independence. She will have passions and deep interests. She will have a group of friends that she will, unfortunately, likely prioritize over you.
At this age, it’s important to teach your girl the importance of confidence, self worth, and personal values. Puberty causes kids to be in a state of emotional volatility. Some lack confidence and self worth, which leads them to depression and unhappiness. A confident and independent daughter with a strong sense of self worth will be able to make good decisions on her own. If her friends try to pressure her into bad behavior, she will have the common sense to say no.
Responsibility and freedom is an issue at this age. Kids want more freedom, which somes with more responsibility. If your daughter handles her personal responsibilities (chores, homework, etc) well, then you’ll know that she is ready to take on more.
It's time to launch your daughter into womanhood. This is the age of ultimate responsibility, when she will make the majority of decisions for herself. What she eats, what she wears, where she goes, and who she sees. This is the precursor to adulthood.
At this age, teach your daughter life skills. How to manage money, how to apply for jobs, and university. Teach her to drive. It’s hard to see your little girl go, but now you can be excited to see her go out and conquer the world, and fulfill her dreams! At this age, continue to build your daughter in confidence. A confident woman is an empowered woman–who knows that she is capable of anything. Support her in her passions as she begins to steer her own ship.
Hopefully, some of these tips will help you on your parenting journey. Just remember: confidence, a strong sense of identity, and good moral judgment are the keys to raising empowered women who make good decisions. Go forth, and raise up the next generation of empowered young women! They are the future!