8 Ways to Raise an Independent Girl

8 Ways to Raise an Independent Girl

Parents play a big part in fostering independence and strength in their daughters.

By: Maria Mora

It’s difficult to picture our innocent children set free in this fast-paced world. How will they cope? What kinds of adults will they be? As you raise your daughter, consider these eight ways to foster independence. Teach her that she’s capable of anything she wants to achieve.

1. Avoid enforcing negative stereotypes. Even if you hate math, try not to harp on it. Your daughter will hear that boys are good at math and science and girls are good at reading. It’s your job to help counteract stereotypes like this so that your daughter understands that being a girl doesn’t make her inherently bad at anything at all.

2. Don't quash her love of princesses. No matter how badly you want your daughter to grow up to be a NASA engineer, don't discourage her from doing traditionally girly things. Her princesses, tutus, and sparkly shoes have nothing to do with her intelligence. Show her that she can rule the world in a glittery tiara if she wants to.

3. Give chores to everyone in the family . Make sure your daughter isn't being given more household chores than other siblings, especially brothers. Girls need to see equal division of labor in the house. Don't assume she'd rather help with dishes than lawn work.

4. Let her make decisions. Even preschoolers can make decisions that fuel a sense of independence. It can be as simple as picking out a pair of shoes in the morning. As your daughter develops, give her opportunities to make decisions for herself. This could mean choosing an after school activity or picking what the family does on a weekend afternoon.

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5. Never disregard her feelings. Children get upset about stuff that seems silly from an adult perspective. No matter how seemingly unimportant her angst is, acknowledge that her feelings are real and that she's allowed to have them. As girls hit their tweens and teens, they'll get bombarded with messages that they're overemotional or even hysterical. This is toxic to independence.

6. Model healthy relationships. Take a close look at your relationship. Do you have the kind of relationship you want your daughter to have in the future? Ideally, the way you and your spouse behave in front of your kids should set a positive example of a balanced and fair relationship.


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7. Don't make it all about boys. When the boy-crazy years hit, you have to walk a fine line. Crushes are normal and totally healthy, so you don't want to make your daughter feel ashamed for blushing over the latest boy band craze. At the same time, stress the importance of friendships. Build up your daughter's confidence at a time when attention from boys may feel irrationally important.

8. Don’t micromanage friendships. As tempting as it is to get involved in your daughter’s friendships, try to stay distanced. Let friend drama play out, or your daughter won’t learn how to cope with relationship strife. If your daughter has male friends, don't assume they're potential crushes and don’t discourage it. It's healthy for kids to have opposite-sex friends.

How do you help boost your daughter’s independence?

Maria Mora is a single mom, editor, and hockey fanatic. She lives with her two sons in Florida.

Image ©iStock.com/knape

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