How to raise a strong, independent woman

Mothers of little girlsIt is our duty to raise independent, strong women who can contribute to society. But how do we create independence Without pushing our children away? My strong desire to hold my little girl tight and never let go is so overwhelming that sometimes it’s hard to remember she needs her own time to explore. This list reminds me of what I can accomplish to ensure that my daughter thrives in this world even when I am unable to.

Encourage independence

Is it difficult for anyone else? let their children play Without being involved constantly? Pre-planned arts and crafts for me letter and number games and “workbooks” are often over the top. It’s easier to teach than it is to sit. My daughter loves it, most of the times. Sometimes she just wants to play in her pretend kitchen and put on her tutu. In those moments, I am learning to let her be and get something else done, like clean the kitchen, fold the laundry, make dinner — whatever is on the list. While I understand that independent play fosters imagination, self-confidence, and allows her to develop new skills, the mommy guilt remains. I think this generation needs to get off Pinterest and remind themselves what being a kid is all for.

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Be an example

You can’t raise a strong, independent woman better than to try being one. Don’t belittle yourself. If you think your daughter doesn’t notice, you’re wrong. Your daughter will be influenced by what you say about yourself. After all, you are her hero, and if you aren’t good enough, then neither is she.

Let them fail — but support them when they do

Everyone benefits from a little competition. In fact, I strongly believe it’s important in teaching determination, perseverance, goal-setting and working hard for what you want. Winning and losing are a part of life that you can’t shelter your child from forever, so why even try? Taking competition out of the mix will only serve as culture shock for them when they grow up and don’t always succeed. It’s how you Deal It is the competition that counts. Instead of focusing solely on winning, give your attention to what is important: the effort they put in. You can teach them to respect the process and to give it their all by giving your best. If they win, it’s just a bonus. If they lose, then you’ll still be there to offer hugs and kisses and kind words.

You can teach them the skills to deal with their emotions early.

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This is a very important point for me as a student physician at a university. Many young adults lack the skills to cope with life. Emotional intelligence — or understanding one’s emotions — is something children should be taught at a young age. Anxious? It’s what you feel and how you deal with it. Sad? It’s OK to feel this way sometimes, but here are ways to boost your mood.

The first step to achieving this is to control your emotions. If your child sees you always scream when you’re angry or sob uncontrollably when you’re sad, don’t expect any different from them. Temper tantrums may be a sign that children are trying to manage their scary, big emotions. Expression of emotions is an essential part of emotional intelligence. But, our children must be taught how to do it correctly. Put a word to what they’re feeling, speak softly, and give hugs, but still set very firm limits. Teach them that yelling and screaming when they’re angry is not a way to cope. You should try to understand why they are mad. “I know you’re sad because you were having fun playing and you don’t want to go, but it’s time to head home where we can play some more. We might be able to come back and play another day. Would that be fun?”

Help them when they need it

Even strong and independent adults require support to succeed. Show your children that you’re there for them, you support them, and you believe in them. A child should never feel like they aren’t good enough, or that you’ll only love them if they meet certain criteria. They shouldn’t have to doubt your unconditional love. Independence is created by letting your child climb high without having to look back to make sure you’re there if they miss a step.

I remember being in university when it hit me — everyone around me was worried their parents would be angry if they didn’t do well. However, I wouldn’t disappoint anyone if my performance was poor. It was not that my parents didn’t care; in fact, it was the exact opposite. I was never worried I wouldn’t do well enough for them, and yet I aimed for the top anyway. My parents were my greatest supporters and I was my worst critic. They believed that I could do it, and they encouraged me, not scolded me, when I failed. This is what my daughter needs: to know I will always love her, no matter what, and to set goals for her success.

More information on raising children

Raising girls: Nobody told me they’d be so different
Raising girls: “They told me LEGOs are for boys”
Raise an alpha daughter this year

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