STEP documents the senior year of a girls’ high-school step dance team against the background of inner-city Baltimore. As each one tries to become the first in their families to attend college, the girls strive to make their dancing a success against the backdrop of social unrest in the troubled city.
Of course you want your daughter to know how fantastic she is! But there's a right and a wrong way to go about it. Without even realizing it, you may be sending harmful messages to your daughter even when you're trying to praise her. Here are six phrases you think are compliments that are actually damaging your daughter.
1. You're a good girl
It can be easy to start attaching morals to actions, but it can also be damaging to your daughter's sense of self. For example, getting a good grade on a test doesn't make her "good."
Instead, choose to praise specific actions. When she comes home and tells you she got a great grade on her test, don't say, "Good girl." Say instead, "You worked so hard studying for that test."
2. Wow! You're so good at that! (artificially)
If she comes home with scribbles, don't tell her it's a masterpiece. If her voice sounds like a goat, don't tell her she sounds like an angel. This doesn't mean being mean, but you should also avoid giving your daughter compliments that are dishonest. Over time, this can corrode her trust when you give her a genuine compliment and set her up to believe she's successful in areas that aren't her strong suits.
Instead, find something true to compliment your daughter on. For instance, tell her you love the colors she chose in her scribbly masterpiece and that you love the way she smiles when she sings.
3. Boys are going to love her sass
First of all, she's way too young for that kind of thing - so let's not go there.
But also, this "compliment" is teaching her to value herself in terms of male approval. Instead, teach her the only person who needs to love her sass is herself.
4. You're good at math for a girl
Basically, any compliment attached to the phrase "for a girl" is unacceptable.
While some stereotypes about males and females do stand up, more often they are propagated simply by our belief that they're true.
We need to stop that cycle. One of the ways you can make a difference in your daughter's life is by not assuming that her gender limits her in any way. This means you should never compliment her with reference to her gender.
5. You're so cute when you're mad
This compliment is sending your daughter multiple bad messages. First of all, you're telling her that her tantrum is acceptable, which it's not.
On the other hand, you're also negating her emotions. Even though her frustrations are probably about something that is minuscule from your perspective, always recognize that they mean the world to her.
She needs to grow up recognizing that her emotions are valid. It's OK - and important - for her to feel things, but she needs to learn how to appropriately manage her emotions.
6. You're so skinny
Being thin does not equate beauty, so let's not define it that way. Praising your daughter for having a little body sets her up to drink up all the damaging body image propaganda that is surely already seeping into her life. Avoid commenting on her weight completely.
"STEP" tells the story of three daughters battling the pressures that would have them believe they are incapable of success. Their inspiring story proves that with hard-work and passion, every woman has the ability to achieve.