Sex & Life
Sex & Life November 23, 2016
When it comes to giving their daughters advice, some fathers are, well, lost. They’re unsure how to relate to their child on a personal or emotional level. How often are you supposed to compliment your daughters? What do they need to hear from you?
As confusing as parenting may get, it’s important to learn how to reinforce your daughters early on. If a father learns how to instill the correct values, especially ones about self-love, she has the potential to be a prosperous, progressive and healthy woman. As social psychologist Susan Newman says, “If you are consistently responsive, your child is more likely to be confident … Let her know that you see her and recognize her accomplishments, large and small.”
If you need help getting started, here is how all fathers can teach their daughters to love themselves.
Young girls are extremely sensitive towards their surroundings. Essentially, what you think is important, they also think is important. Thus, set a good example by establishing a theme of positivity in your household.
Avoid depreciating comments and negative observations about her appearance. Don’t comment on the appearance of others or how a certain actress looks in a movie. When your daughter is developing, the last thing she should be worrying about is how she looks or if she’s good enough.
Although you shouldn’t insult your daughter’s image, that doesn’t mean you should ignore it. In order to boost her confidence, psychotherapist Karen Ruskin says you should constantly tell her she’s beautiful. “Just talk about it in a way that compliments her mind,” Ruskin says. “Instead of saying, ‘Your hair is pretty’ or ‘Your shirt is pretty,’ comment on her choice to create something beautiful rather than just being beautiful.”
And while you’re at it, also teach your daughter from an early age that while exterior beauty is nice to have, it’s not enough. It’s also about the way she carries herself, her accomplishments and her goals. “Looks change,” psychotherapist Robi Ludwig says. “There are lots of beautiful people in the world so it’s important to also be a beautiful person” inside and out.
Set a good example for your daughter by treating the women in your life with respect and equality. If a father criticizes and acts condescending towards his partner, their daughter will assume that all women are treated in the same way. Additionally, Robi Ludwig and Karen Ruskin point out that you should watch how you talk to your wife. “If you say, ‘Mommy is putting on makeup to look pretty,’ your daughter will come to understand that you are concerned about your looks,” the psychotherapists explain.
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A little girl will always look up to her parents to follow their examples. So, it’s important to watch how you speak and how you treat each other.
Additionally, your actions can also potentially affect the way she views a husband’s role. Try to set a good example by being helpful around the house, composed and encouraging. These positive behaviors will influence your daughter and can help her develop proper expectations for her future partner.
It’s important that your daughter knows that she can do anything she wants with her future. Make sure she has the opportunities to explore her interests; don’t box her in. Her childhood and adolescence is the time to try out new hobbies, discover new talents and learn to work hard.
The best way to teach her these qualities is to encourage her, says Susan Newman, Ph.D. According to her, encouragement is effective because it “allows you to select a characteristic or behavior you want to develop or foster in a positive and constructive way and it lets you call attention to their process.” When your daughter comes home with a poor grade, you could say something like, “I like the effort you put into the studying. Maybe a bit more next time, you think?”
This way, “you compliment the process not the outcome,” Newman says. You are making her responsible. Then, you can also regularly remind her that she can do anything, whether that’s becoming a biologist, a hair stylist, a lawyer or a stay-at-home mom.
But above all, be kind to your daughter and treat others with respect. Although the role of the father comes with great responsibility, it is also very rewarding to watch your daughter grow up to be a healthy and confident young woman.
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