A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about my first experience when my 5 year old asked "if she looked fat." My husband and I do our best in raising a confident young girl, we both realize that it comes from both of us. The advice I received from our school's director was fantastic in recognizing what the real underlying issue was about.
What can we do as parents? Studies show this foundation begins early and the building starts when girls approach their tweens, around 8-12 years of age. It is what we do in the home that can help battle the pressures of peer behavior in schools and other extra -curricular activities.
Good parenting starts with positive relationship building that begins in the home. According to Jill Hope of I Shine Kids, communication is key.
"One of the most important things we can do for our kids is to create a space for open communication," Hope said. "The more you can instill a safe and positive space for open dialogue, the more she will feel comfortable sharing her thoughts and feelings with you."
Carving out some every day is important. At least a few times per week, my daughter and I have "couch time." We sit on the couch, cuddle and just chat about our day. Sometimes I can get something out of her that is bothering her and other times it is just chatter.
What else can we do as moms and dads?
1. Love their mother. This is first and foremost. Dads, you are the role model for the type of man you want your daughter to marry. She needs to see you embrace, kiss and lift up their mother in a positive way. One that builds your little girl up too. Do not eye another "hot" mama, it is insulting and disrespectful towards her mom and your daughter. Speak highly of other women in front of them, women are not objects and neither is your daughter.
2. Lift her up. Yes, telling her she is beautiful is important, but she needs to know what makes her so special. You fell in love with your wife not because she was beautiful, but because you found characteristics that you adored. Your daughter needs to hear those same things. She will eventually find a man who appreciates all the things you love about your daughter too.
3. Make time for her. Start early and go on daddy/daughter date nights. A couple times a month is not much to ask. It can be a breakfast date or take her to see a children's play. Whatever it is, make it her time. Put away your phone and engage in conversation. Showing her she is worth real time conversation will be valuable as she learns to interact in the real world.
4. Tutor her. Show her that academics are important, but the ability to complete a task, to follow through on what she started is equally important and will teach important life skills. Yes, teach her to use a wrench and eventually change a tire. Whenever your "honey-do" list is to put together, have her be your little helper. Even if it takes you twice as long. There is nothing cooler than a girl that knows the difference between a flathead and a Phillips screwdriver.
5. Have fun! Ok, so we know you are the ones that come home from work and it is all fun and games. Yes, you know who you are or what I like to call it "Disney Dad." But we need that kind of spark and life from even our hectic days as moms. Letting loose is good, but just try not to get them all riled up RIGHT before bedtime, ok?
Jasmine blogs to inspire you to make positive, healthy changes.
See more of Jasmine's stories here.