As a parent, you have been a great cheerleader to your girl since the time she was born. But, no matter how hard you try to raise a confident and empowered girl, her morale shakes up at times; the times when she is inadvertently exposed to the statements from books, movies, or sometimes the phrases from friends and family members, that projects women as a weaker section of the society.
Last week my younger daughter was reading about “fundamental rights”; the right to education is one. She was aghast upon learning that a girl child is still denied this right in many parts of the country. On another occasion learning about the sati system in one of her history chapters upset her. During such times, I make it a point to talk to my girl about what they read or see in media. We converse, decode and try to make sense of the information she perceives. A small effort like this where we express our opinions and hear each other raises my girl’s self-esteem.
What we say or do has a powerful impact on our kids’ psyche. If parents intentionally try to say (or not say) certain things to our young girls, we can raise them into confident beings.
- You look so beautiful. I must confess even I was guilty of saying this when I used to meet a little girl. Compliments like “your dress is beautiful, your eyes are nice, you are pretty” came out of the mouth inadvertently, but not anymore. When I became a mother of a girl, I realized these phrases send the wrong message that focuses only on the external appearance. Adults should be asking/saying these to girls “what’s your favourite sport/ movie/ book”, “you are quite energetic” “you look a brave little girl”; and many similar comments that focus on her personality and not on her clothes or looks.
- You be quiet: It’s been hardwired into us that girls who speak their minds are rude and bossy. I don’t want my girls to learn that they can’t say what they think. In our house, their opinion is always listened to and are acted upon too. To a question that demands an answer, if they say, “your wish” “whatever”, I always encourage them to give me a concrete answer. That doesn’t mean I don’t teach them to be good listeners too. But truth be told, it’s their leadership skills that I enjoy more.
- I look fat: When one day my elder one said, “Mumma I don’t like how my arms look in this picture”, I was surprised. Upon contemplation, I realized this self-depreciation comes from me only. I time and again used to say – I look fat, I am getting grey hairs, I don’t look good in this picture. Well no more, now I keep these words in check for my kids. And to encourage body positivity, I always emphasize having a healthy body in front of my girls.
WORDS HAVE GREAT POWER, SO CHOOSE THE WORDS WISELY.
TRY SAYING THESE POSITIVE WORDS TO KIDS:
Live life carefree, go outside and play, make friends, dress up how you like, build a career, travel, enjoy life, you are strong, it’s ok to say no, emulate the successful women- learn from their story, I believe you, I love you. And above all, feel good, be good, see good and do good.
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