It's something every parent will have considered - how to make sure your daughter grows up to be a happy, confident adult.
Every parent wants their child to grow up to be a happy and confident adult so it's a sobering thought that half a million children in the UK are dealing with anxiety or depression. These issues can often develop as a result of low self-esteem, and the impact of social media on youngsters' self-confidence is being widely debated as a result.
I am increasingly being asked by parents for advice on how to spot any potential problems early on in their children, and now run courses in how to raise confident children. Girls can face different challenges, particularly relating to social expectations around women and femininity, and find it helpful to talk through their emotions while also better understanding how to confidently assert themselves in a range of situations.
Firstly, talk to your child but more importantly, listen. When youngsters feel listened to and understood it strengthens their inner confidence and self-belief which in turn helps them to make positive and healthy choices in life. A lack of confidence and potentially feeling judged can lead to a child retreating into themselves and becoming more isolated, and parents often need support with communicating effectively with their child throughout this process.
Don't eliminate criticism but go easy with it and use constructively. Don't say anything critical unless you can also say what they need to do differently to improve. Avoid using words like 'always' and 'never' as this will sound as if they can't change what they're doing.
Encourage your child to understand that they are only likely to reach their goals if they put in real effort and hard work. Dreams are fine but the reality is they must work hard to fulfil them. Don't try to protect your children from bad feelings that result from failure, for example bad feelings help them grow and develop resilience. Failure is an essential part of learning.
Teach your child the skills of doing well and self-control, for example, persevering with a frustrating task, doing their homework before playing and not giving in to immediate gratification.
Keep their optimism and confidence high by teaching them how to see any problems as temporary or restricted to one or two factors which they can change. Instill the belief that their ability can get better, that they'll progress if they work or try harder and that there are many ways to succeed.
Lastly, give your children lots of unqualified love and affection. Don't let them think that your love is conditional on how they perform or how successful they are.
First Psychology Scotland are running an interactive workshop in Edinburgh on Saturday 31 October and Glasgow on Saturday 28 November, designed to provide parents, carers and educators of girls aged 7 to 16 with an understanding of the kinds of development issues girls may encounter in the process of moving through childhood and adolescence. It will also provide an opportunity to share experiences and hear from others, as well as exploring proven psychological strategies to address common difficulties. To book a place click here.