A recent survey found that between the ages of 8 and 14, girls’ confidence drops by 30 percent. In fact, one study showed that at the age of 9, girls were confident and assertive, but by high school, less than a third felt the same way.
So how can parents help boost their daughters’ confidence to ensure that they continue to grow and take chances?
Rachel Stafford, a New York Times bestselling author and writer of the blog Hands Free Mama has an incredibly easy, yet powerful, suggestion: affirmation.
Providing affirmation to your daughter is a simple enough gesture, but too often those words go unsaid. Stafford recognized this recently when she received positive feedback at an exercise class, one she believed she was bombing. The instructor told her that she was doing really well and to “keep it up.”
“Surprisingly my eyes got teary, which indicated I really needed that encouragement. Suddenly, I found my strength and felt a little more optimistic — like maybe I’m on the right track after all,” the mother-of-two wrote.
The timing was serendipitous. Stafford’s daughters, Natalie, 15, and Avery, 12, had just completed their first week at high school and middle school, respectively.
“I wanted my kids to know that accomplishing their first-ever week of high school and first-ever week of middle school was significant. I placed a few of my daughters’ favorite treats inside a brown bag on which I wrote things I’d noticed about the way they successfully navigated their first week,” Stafford wrote. “My affirmations all started with ‘I love how you …’ and it took ten minutes, at the most.”
The bags included small gifts, like chocolates and hair bands, but the main focus was the affirmations. “My 15-year-old daughter sat down and read the sack carefully, her face holding that unmistakable look of peace when someone feels seen,” Stafford told Today. “And my 12-year-old daughter just smiled and smiled as I read her affirmations aloud.”
“It’s comforting to know you’re on the right track when you are not quite sure where you are going. It’s comforting to know someone is noticing your effort as you figure things out,” Stafford wrote.
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