Usually, it’s little girls whom parents dress up in adorable, frilly dresses, while little boys are given knee shins and baseball mouthguards. When little boys splash in the mud and explore rocky rivers, they’re encouraged to be as adventurous as safety permits. But when little girls try to get their hands into the same thing, they are told off because they’ll ruin their hair and clothes. Little girls are meant to be seen and admired, so it seems.
Whether we realize it, we’re discouraging them from being curious, scientific, adventurous, and sporty. We’re giving the subtle message that fashion is only for girls and physical activity is only for boys. Of course, girls can be good athletes, and boys can be fashionistas.
We have to address this issue early on. Part of this is teaching young girls that they should love their bodies.
Focus on Activity
Yes, appearance is essential. But the same standards apply to boys as well as to girls: Stay clean and hygienic. Other than that, you are your own definition of beauty. If your daughter feels more comfortable in jogging pants and sweatshirts, let her be. Doing this makes it easier for her to move around. Instead of teaching girls what matters the most is how they look, emphasize on what their bodies can do.
Make your child realize how strong she is, just like boys. Enroll her in sports or dance classes while you’re at it since even ballet is known to be physically rigorous. Stay attuned to what kind of physical activity your child likes and fully support her. That keeps her body healthy and active, as well as her mind. She’ll learn socialization skills when in teams and classes. She’ll also learn how to be a good sport.
Focus on the Positive
Never complain about your appearance. Your child will soak them up like a sponge and start to wonder if she too is fat or ugly. If she’s getting a bit heavier, never tell her so. Do not make any negative comments about her weight or appearance. Instead, try to encourage healthy eating by experimenting on delicious food filled with low-calorie nutrients. Be generous with your praise of the strength of one’s body and her ability to move around and do things. Health is also in mind. Don’t be fooled into thinking that your “tough love” won’t damage your child.
Focus on Tenacity
Encourage discipline. Push your child to exercise and practice regularly. But before that, impart to her the importance of grit so that she will be willing to exert control and won’t have to be pushed. Teach her to be open to challenges by offering suggestions, encouraging them when she fails, and congratulating her for her hard work when she wins or breaks a self-imposed record.
When your child fails, be there for her. Don’t scold her. Let her know that you know how hard she is trying. Even if she doesn’t believe in herself, she can sense whether a parent feels it for her. So encourage her even when it seems that she isn’t absorbing the good things you say about her.
Societal pressure may be stronger in girls than in boys. If you’re not careful, they might grow up feeling unlovable and weak. It may lead to dependency issues, self-hatred, and confusion. Girls who do sports tend to have more social skills, better self-esteem, and stronger personalities. Let your daughter be who she wants to be.