Building confidence is essential for your daughter to reach her full potential.
While confidence is essential for both boys and girls, this article explores how pressures, bias and threats against girls specifically, make confidence and self-esteem so critical. As parents, there is much we can do to help our daughters become confident.
Confidence is the feeling of appreciating our abilities of what we can do, where self-esteem is liking who we are, as a person.
Confidence and self-esteem are both controlled by the brains thought processes and can be strengthened at any age.
Why Are Self-Esteem and Confidence Important for Girls
According to UCL researchers studying brain signals that explain rise and falls in self-esteem, low self-esteem is a vulnerability factor for problems including eating disorders, anxiety disorders and depression.
Why Does Confidence in Girls Fall in Tween and Teen Years
Research shows that many girls start to lose confidence around the age of 12 and as early as the age of 8. Canadian Women’s Foundation helps girls navigate what it calls the “triple whammy of adolescence”:
- high risk of sexual assault
- poor mental health
- toxic, sexualized culture
According to research from the book, The Confidence Code for Girls, modern-day girls report:
- 75% of teens girls worry about failing
- Confidence levels drop 30% for many girls in the early years of adolescence
- During tween and teen years, concern that other people like them rises significantly
UCL research found that self-esteem changes in the brain were guided by whether other people like you, and were especially dependent on whether you expected to be liked.
One of the best ways to help a girl develop confidence is through mentorship. About 60% of Canadians who say they are “very confident”, had a mentor in their youth.
According to Harvard University, Center on the Developing Child, “the single most common factor for children who develop resilience is at least one stable and committed relationship with a supportive parent, caregiver, or other adult.”
A Story of Resilience and Confidence – Amanda Gorman
Amanda Gorman is a great example of what confidence can do for a girl. Gorman, age 22, struggled with a speech impediment her entire life. Her defining moment came when she presented a poem she’d written at the 2021 presidential inauguration.
Gorman began writing at an early age. She did it as a way to deal with her speech impediment. At 14, she joined WriteGirl, an LA-based nonprofit group that helps teen girls find their voice through creative writing. By 16, she was named the Youth Poet Laureate of Los Angeles, and a few years later while attending Harvard, she became the first National Youth Poet Laureate.
Her words were powerful and her speech and voice moved with grace and confidence. Many were surprised to learn Gorman had dealt with a speech impediment since childhood. According to Gorman, until her late teens, she couldn’t say the letter “R.” She overcome the impediment by singing along with songs that challenged her to use that letter.
Says Gorman, “It was as recent as college that I was still struggling to say the ‘R’ sound, so one thing I would try to do to train myself to say it, is I would listen to the song ‘Aaron Burr, Sir,’ which is just packed with Rs. And I would try to keep up with Leslie Odom Jr. as he’s doing this amazing rap, and I’d say, ‘If I can train myself to do this song, then I can train myself to say this letter.’ So that’s been a huge part of my own speech pathology. It’s why I included it in the inaugural poem.”
Now, Gorman’s future is bright. She’s publishing two books, including the children’s book “Change Sings.” She’s also announced her intentions to run for president in 2036, according to the LA Times. It’s easy to see how confidence helped her overcome her challenges and make the most of the opportunities she’s been given.
How to Help Your Daughter Build Confidence
- Tell your daughter you love her, often and without reason! Kids who believe they are loved and cherished tend to have more confidence.
- Be a positive role model for confidence and self-esteem.
- Find positive mentors for your daughter.
- Discourage perfection. Normalize trying new things, taking chances, and failing, as these actions all build confidence.
- Build your daughters media savvy, in advertising and online. Help her recognize photo editing practices, and shaming messaging, discover positive tags and high-achieving women to follow.
- Encourage your daughter to discover who she is, find hobbies and interests that express her spirit and personality.
- Join communities like A Mighty Girl for ideas and inspiration.