How to Boost Your Daughter's Confidence
Check out these great ideas and resources galore!
At a time in your daughter’s life when feeling included and recognized is so important for her self confidence, the burgeoning girl-power movement offers a perfect opportunity for you to help her develop a sense of belonging.
She’ll get to experience what it feels like to be included in a growing, unified goal, she’ll get to discover and showcase her passion(s), and her self-esteem can grow exponentially.
Equally important, it’s just as beneficial for introverts (‘independent thinkers’) to feel a sense of belonging and forward movement as it is for extroverts (‘joiners’). This article provides tips for both the ‘independent thinker’ and the ‘joiner.’
Remember: your girl needs to start the process of boosting her confidence with someone she loves and trusts. You.
Step 1. Stream a girl-power movie together
This first step’s purpose is to build opinions about girl power TOGETHER. Streaming a movie together is a good way to do that. She'll be able to organize her thoughts in private, without feeling like she has to form an opinion on-command.
Here are some options for things to watch together. Before inclusion in this list, we culled each item with age-appropriateness in mind, but of course the final decision is up to you.
- Moana (Disney). The film tells the story of Moana, the strong-willed, heroic daughter of a chief of a Polynesian village, who is chosen by the ocean itself to reunite a mystical relic with a goddess. Parent tip: If you can get past the violence, this movie delivers mighty girl-power messaging with wonderful songs and beautiful images. Trailer
- Mulan (Disney). Fearful that her ailing father will be drafted into the Chinese military, Mulan takes his spot — though, as a girl living under a patriarchal regime, she is technically unqualified to serve. She cleverly impersonates a man and goes off to train with fellow recruits. Parent tip: Mulan is a ‘Disneyfied,’ but dignified and accurate story of a brave, persistent Chinese girl warrior. Trailer
- Hidden Figures. Three brilliant African-American women at NASA serve as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in history: the launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit, a stunning achievement that restored the nation’s confidence in the global Space Race. Parent tip: This movie works best for the 10+ age group. It has no violence, positive role models, strong messaging (perseverance, courage, teamwork), a realistic look at historical racial tensions, and minimal romance. Trailer
Step 2. Encourage her to join a girl’s organization
If your girl is a ‘joiner,’ there are some high-quality girl-power groups she can join. If her preference is to do things on her own, there are also many proven, effective options available to help her feel like she belongs (see steps #3 and #4 below).
For girls who are at their best in a group setting, we recommend the following groups. All organizations listed here have either already been established or are aspiring to establish chapters nationwide.
Note: This list is not exhaustive, but it will give you a good sense of the types of organizations available.
- Girls Scouts of the USA — A central focus of tGirl Scouts is raising strong and confident girls to be skilled leaders; this is emphasized through team-building activities and community service.
- Girls on the Run — Girls on the Run fosters positive emotional, social, mental, spiritual, and physical development in girls ages eight to thirteen years old through running programs and workouts. The goal is to prevent girls from engaging in at-risk activities as they mature.
- Girls, Inc. — Girls Inc. inspires all girls to be strong, smart, and confident through education programs. Key programs include math and science education, drug abuse prevention, media literacy, economic literacy, adolescent health, violence prevention, and sports participation.
- Girlstart — Girlstart provides Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education programs for girls in kindergarten through twelfth grade. This focus on STEM helps to develop interest in STEM electives, majors, and careers.
- Girls for a Change— Girls for a Change (GFC) empowers girls to create social change by completing projects that tackle issues girls face in their own communities. GFC focuses on inspiring black girls and girls of color to speak up and be heard, to become competent decision makers, and to realize their full potential.
- Girl Talk — Girl Talk is a peer mentoring program that pairs high school girls with middle school girls. The goal is to help younger girls navigate the tween and early teenage years. Not only do the middle school girls benefit from the guidance of their older peers, the high school girls learn from sharing their experiences as positive role models.
- Girls Leadership — Girls Leadership considers girls’ real-life, every-day relationships with friends and family as a prime opportunity to teach the leadership skills that will serve them over a life-time: self-advocacy, negotiation, compromise, personal responsibility, and conflict as an opportunity for change. They work not only with girls, but also with primary influencers — parents, teachers, and caregivers — to create sustainable impact. This is a great option for parents who want to transform their girl’s ‘bossiness’ into leadership skills.
- Girl Up — Girl Up is a campaign of the United Nations Foundation. The mission is to give girls the opportunity to become global leaders and to raise awareness and funds for United Nations programs that help adolescent girls in need around the world.
Please note: Each organization’s website and Wikipedia page offer more information.
If your girl does better when she is able to focus independently, steps #3 and #4 below might be better suited for her personality.
Step 3. Suggest helping others as a way for her to feel empowered
For girls who like to feel productive without the ‘team-spirit’ theme, there are plenty of options. This step suggests ideas for your girl to feel included in the girl-power movement without forcing her to do something that she’s not comfortable with, like joining a group.
Volunteering might be a smart way to facilitate her own confidence-building while simultaneously helping others. Here are some ideas for finding a suitable volunteering opportunity:
- Volunteer Match https://www.volunteermatch.org/ — Strengthens communities by making it easier for individuals to find appropriate causes. The organization matches volunteers with businesses to provide tools and services that help individuals, companies, brands, campuses, and government organizations.
- Youth Volunteer Corps https://yvc.org/ — non-profit service organization operating throughout the United States and Canada that was created to introduce, encourage, and support the spirit of volunteerism in youth.
More ideas: 50 Kid Friendly Volunteering Ideas
Step 4. Be the spark!
The only way to guide your girl toward feeling included in girl power might very well be daily inspiration and closeness with you. If so, here are some ideas:
- Set daily reminders — Motivational quotes are a great way to jump-start a positive opinion of girl-power. The right quotes can remind your girl that girls are smart, capable, and deserve a chance to thrive. Take time to help her create daily reminders; there are plenty of smart phone apps that make it easy. She can use these reminders to begin her day on a positive girl-power note.
- Be her biggest cheerleader — Your girl needs to feel loved and supported at all times. Support her ideas and accomplishments by taking time to talk with her. Guide her toward confidence by being there to give her a little push when she needs it. Then stand back (a little) and watch her grow. Accomplishing a goal through her own hard work will show her that she is capable of creating her own happiness. So important!
- Take a class together — Do you know how to change a tire or fix the garbage disposal? If you do, pass this information on to your girl. If you don’t, take a class and learn together. Teaching her to do fix-it chores around the house or how to change a car tire are wonderful ways to bolster her confidence.
- Teach bravery — Trying new things is a great way to learn bravery. Most of us develop confidence by experiencing mastery of a new skill that we were initially afraid to do or were simply unfamiliar with. When your girl is struggling with a new skill, remind her of the other times she’s learned something new. Your guidance and encouragement will help her persevere.
- Expose her to positive female role models — There are countless women who are doing work to advance the current women’s rights movement. Expose your girl to those you know in your daily life and those that you can find through film, television, and online sources. Point these amazing role models out to her whenever you come across them in your life or online.
- Try not to be too critical — This is probably the trickiest suggestion, especially during the tween years. Your girl is pre-programmed to break away; it’s a natural part of growing up. Try not to take it too personally. Guide her (as much as you can), without judgement, to come up with her own solutions for feeling included.
Building your daughter's confidence isn't a one-time effort. Keep at it!
- How the need to belong influences human behavior and motivation
- Girls Empowerment Network volunteer opportunities
- Help her find her girl squad
|If you found this article helpful, please check out How to Teach Girls They're Just as Worthy as Boys. It's a concise guidebook for parents that's full of more DEI resources for parents and suggestions for boosting girls' confidence.