March 8th is International Women’s Day – a day for Canadians and many countries around the world to celebrate women and their strengths and achievements. The day is also focused on breaking down barriers that continue to exist. The strong, vibrant women of tomorrow are girls today and it’s never too early in a child’s development to think about our own biases (and how to overcome them) and how to empower young girls and ensure we are raising confident women of tomorrow. At Wee Watch this year, we have launched a year long program focused on STEM activities and learning – our way to support the interests and development of all children in our homes without gender bias, while nurturing a love of science, experimentation, technology, building and math.
In support of International Women’s Day, we’ve provided some tips below for empowering young girls and boosting their self-esteem:
- Appreciate women around you – highlight successful women around you so they identify role models, understand that anything is possible and you demonstrate that women are valuable and equal.
- Model body acceptance – moms have a big impact on their daughter’s body image. Don’t ask, “do these jeans make me look fat?” or obsess about your appearance in front of them, avoid talking about food and yourself as “good” or “bad.”
- Don’t raise her as a “pleaser” – encourage girls to stand up for what they need and want and create opportunities for her to use her voice and to ask for what she wants. Let her make a choice and then honour that choice.
- Start team sports early – research shows girls who play on teams have higher self-esteem. There’s a common correlation between girls who play team sports and girls who don’t suffer with low self-esteem because they are looking to other girls for their value, and within, as opposed to looking to boys for validation.
- Praise your daughter for her efforts rather than her performance – focus less on the outcome and more on efforts and the development of new skills with your daughters. Mastery is what builds confidence and learning to tolerate failure fosters resilience.
- Dads: Don’t treat your daughter like a damsel in distress – when fathers treat girls as though they are fragile and helpless the message is they need someone to help them. Instead teach her to have the tools to help herself – anything you would teach your son, you should be teaching your daughter.
Fostering a girls strengths and abilities without gender bias from a young age and raising strong, independent girls benefits us all in the long run.