Of course you want to raise a daughter who is confident, self-assured and proud of herself—but how do you help her get there, especially with a world fraught with inequities? We consulted Dr. Elanna Yalow, the Chief Academic Officer for KinderCare Education, about the phrases parents can say weekly to make a serious impact on who our daughters become.
3 Things to Say to Your Daughter Every Week
1. “Wow, you worked really hard on that.”
Why This is Helpful: Per Dr. Yalow, girls in particular (but also kids in general) tend to have a fear of failure. This phrase is about acknowledging their efforts instead of simply celebrating good work. “You want to give them confidence to work through adversity, so that they are more comfortable taking on challenges and learning from them,” she says. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t recognize accomplishments. It’s more that you shouldn’t limit your recognition to their successes. “Praising effort is how you teach kids to try harder and take on things they didn’t think they could do,” Dr. Yalow adds. “If your daughter only gets praise for succeeding, she’s going to limit her expectations of herself to the things she knows she’s good at just to get the praise instead of finding personal fulfillment in the effort.”
2. “I love you.”
Why This is Helpful: The fact that parents love their children is something that is easy to take for granted, but saying these three words out loud to your daughter is one of the best ways to help her build resilience over time. “It demonstrates a strong and supportive relationship with a caring and responsible adult,” Dr. Yalow explains. “This can really serve as a buffer to adversity and help her develop critical skills like confidence and security.”
3. “You look strong.”
Why This is Helpful: Commenting on your daughter’s appearance is a natural thing to do, but you need to be sure that any praise you’re offering isn’t skewed to a certain gender. “It’s about balance and avoiding strong gender-typing based only on the things we recognize,” Dr. Yalow explains. For example: It doesn’t mean you can’t ever say, ‘Wow, you look so pretty.’ It’s more that you should also say: ‘You look strong,’ or ‘you look powerful,’ or ‘you look like you’re ready to work hard.’ Phrases like these remind your daughter that being a girl is about so much more than looks.