Raising a daughter in this modern world and helping her reach her potential is, in the words of Dickens, “the best of times and the worst of times.” While women have more opportunities than ever before they are also inundated with an onslaught of false images of photoshopped beauty and unhealthy body image on social media. You want your daughter to take full advantage of the best this world has to offer and build them up to be a leader. To help prepare your child for her future, practice these 3 ways to help your daughter reach her potential.
1. Let Her Fail
Girls who never learn how to fail and keep going after a failure cannot enter adulthood with the confidence that they’ll be able to handle whatever comes their way. Teach your daughter that it is ok to fail! Whether they are learning to tie their shoes or auditioning for a lead in a play, there are going to be times where things don’t come easy or go the way we want them to. If you teach your daughter to expect that failures can happen when she tries new things — and that it is perfectly normal and expected — then we take away the fear and stigma and failure. With this kind of vision of failure your daughter will be set up to learn the positives of failure, learning from her mistakes and how to keep trying.
We do our kids a disservice when we protect them from failure, especially the kind that is a natural consequence of their choices. If your daughter routinely forgets her lunch or sleeps in later for the bus and we run in to save them from these experiences then they miss out on an opportunity to learn from their mistakes. Don’t cope and cover for your daughter all the time. Let her struggle and accept the natural consequences to learn naturally from such experiences. She’ll learn how to handle disappointment as well if she doesn’t succeed like she wanted after one or more attempts.
The key here is to encourage her effort that she made in the first place in trying. Celebrate her ability to get back up again and to keep continuing to learn and try again. If she makes a mistakes, save the judgement and the lectures and show her that you value the lesson she can learn from those natural consequences or the let-down of disappointment. Offering empathy and encouragement to do better next time and to keep trying will go a long way in helping your daughter reach her potential.
Share your own personal life failures with your daughter. Let her know how you have overcome and when she starts to get discouraged, remind her that she is an overcomer too! Show her how she has overcome her mistakes and all the positive growth and knowledge she gained along the way and she’ll be on her way to reaching her potential.
2. Teach Her How to Work Hard
We live in world much different than previous generations. Rather than raising our kids side-by-side, growing a large garden and mending our own clothing, we live in a fast-paced, microwave meal society where things come more quickly and easy than ever before. Teaching your daughter the value of hard work from the time she is young is a key step in helping her to achieve her potential. But how do we teach hard work when there are no cows to milk and fields to plow?
Unfortunately teaching the value of hard work just as it relates to school work isn’t enough — life isn’t a series of teacher-given assignments to turn in after all . Teaching hard work and how to love giving your all to their goals is key in helping your daughter have higher self esteem and success later in life. So how do we do it? First, try modeling your own love of hard work. Show them that working hard to clean out the garage or start a garden is enjoyable and fulfilling.
Another step in fostering hard work is to let them struggle. If the job seems too big or hard it’s easy to want to give our daughter a break, but instead try giving her some encouragement. Work alongside your child and lay on the praise when they work through the struggle and have finished the work. And remember, teaching your child to work hard is a process (like everything in parenting, right?). Be patient, if there is plenty of whining and struggle in the beginning know that if you too work hard and stick with it, your daughter will know the value of hard work and be well on her way to reaching her potential.
3. Be a Model of Success and Happiness
Don’t just tell your daughter how to be, show her, by how you act, react, dream and achieve in your life everyday. It’s a no brainer that our kids are watching us closely. According to the Social Learning Theory, people learn by watching others. In one experiment of this theory they demonstrated how kids imitate adult behavior using a clown doll. The kids who watched the adult become aggressive with the inflatable doll also became aggressive. Children that saw the adults treat the doll kindly, imitated that same kindness.
As parents we already know this to be true, whether it was our cute little toddler saying a word we wish they hadn’t picked up from us, or the adorable way they tuck in their baby doll at night, the same way we tuck in their baby brother. So if our daughters are watching us so closely it makes sense that the best thing we can do is be a model of happiness, a model of success and a model of all the good things we want for our girls. This includes modeling how to say sorry or ask for forgiveness if we make a mistake because our example will never be a perfect one.
If you want your daughter to have a positive body image and a healthy relationship with food then pay attention to how you speak about your own body and food choices. If you want your daughter to value learning then share with her what you are learning each day and let her see your excitement to be learning something new. If you want your daughter to have healthy relationships then show her what that looks like in your own life and watch as your example teaches her far more than a lesson or a lecture ever could.
While these 3 ways to help your daughter reach her potential aren’t an all-inclusive list, they are a good start and it’s never too late to teach learning from failure, hard work and modeling success. You can start today. Good luck, mama, you’ve got this.