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While similar parenting techniques work to raise both boys and girls, here are the 10 most important things you need to know about raising daughters that are drastically different than raising sons.
She needs to make choices to find herself
When any child reaches adolescence, they are looking to find out who they are as an individual, but girls especially need to have that sense of identity. Help her find that individuality by giving her multiple outlets to discovering a passion that she loves. It helps to give her options (like basketball or ballet, going out for ice cream or making cookies at home, etc.) to discover for herself who she really wants to be.
This is a hard one to grasp, but daughters need to know that it's okay to make mistakes. Girls are especially prone to perfectionism. The problem pops up when you only praise her for doing well. She starts to equate making a mistake with not being "good enough." Show her that making mistakes can be a positive thing. Do something together that's out of your comfort zone, something you know you're not perfect at, and show your daughter why it's okay to make mistakes.
She needs to feel empowered
As girls get older, many lose their voice and conviction of ideas in submission to someone else. Teach your daughter early on that it's okay (and even good) to have an opinion and to share it for change. She shouldn't dumb herself down. The best way for her to learn this is to see it in you. Show her that you have a voice and a reason to speak up and stand up for yourself, so that she will feel like she can do the same.
A girl's friend group will weigh in heavily on her esteem. Girls especially feel the need to have a best friend, more so than boys. With this strong pull, your daughter may pick the wrong set of friends or best friend out of necessity, choosing to spend time with friends who abuse her. Pay attention to how your daughter interacts with her friends and her attitude after being with them. Watch for warning signs of possible bullying or cyberbullying, but give her space, too, so that she can gain those friendships that will build her feeling of worth.
She needs to be happy with herself
From the time a girl starts going to school to the time she graduates high school, her "self-esteem drops 3.5 times more than a boy's does." It is incredibly important that your daughter knows that she has reasons to love herself. Help her to understand that she can be happy even before she gets into a good school, before she is successful, or before the right guy comes along.
On the flip side of that, if your daughter isn't aware that there are times when it's normal to be sad, she might have more detrimental problems down the road. The truth is, she can't always choose to be happy. No one can. But girls particularly are prone to emotional disorders such as depression and anxiety. Encourage her to be happy, but be understanding and give her moments to hold you and cry.
She needs to know you love her
Sounds like common sense, but you may be neglecting this step more often than you realize. Tell your daughter often that you love her and why. Girls need to hear these words of affirmation because they will often distrust themselves that they are doing okay. Never belittle her, she may hold on to such criticisms, even in jest.
She needs you to talk about sex openly
Don't shy away from having conversations about sex with your daughter, even at a young age. A third of teenage girls or viewing pornography, especially without your support. Protect your daughter and monitor her phone for sexually explicit texts or apps, along with being brave and open with her about sex.
She needs to love her body
Body weight is only one physical issue out of many that your daughter will undoubtedly face as she grows up. She needs your help from an early age to learn what are healthy practices and the dangers of those that are not. Be careful when giving criticism about her appearance that you do so in a loving manner, and never tell her that she's fat. Teach her to exercise to be healthy, not just as a way to get skinny, and instill in her an attitude of not to comparing herself to others. This process starts with you acting and thinking the same.
She needs you
You may want to be your daughter's best friend rather than her parent, but she needs that parental support and protection. 48% of girls go to their mom for advice, while only 15% go to their friends first. On top of guidance you directly give her, chances are that your daughter is going to see you as her role model and base her actions off of yours. If you belittle or shame yourself, so will she. If you only strive for perfection, so will she. Who do you want your daughter to be? Be that person, and step up to the plate to protect her as a parent.
A photo posted by Summer Murdock (@summer_murdock) on
Raising a daughter becomes more challenging every day, but there are tools to help. Download WebSafety, an app for parents to monitor their child's online activity and mobile/tablet use. You want to know how to raise your daughter right because you love her and care for her safety, so be more protective and aware of the dangers she may be facing.
Emily interned as a BrandView content writer with FamilyShare.com. She has also worked as a writing tutor and a volunteer creative writing editor. But if you want the more honest answer as to who Emily really is, she would describe herself as an avid bacon lover and film buff, with Grace Kelly class and an irrational fear of stairs.