5 Life skills to teach your daughter before they turn 13
"Girls are at their fiercest and most authentic prior to puberty."
Girls at the cusp of their teenage years are at a crucial point in their lives. This is when their personality begins to form and that habits and way of thinking she develops towards herself and others will define the path she will take.
This is also a time when pressure intensifies and certain expectations such as being pretty, popular and loved may weigh heavily on her.
These may cause her to hide her true feelings and fear expressing her identity for fear of being rejected.
"Girls are at their fiercest and most authentic prior to puberty," says Rachel Simmons, author and cofounder of Girls Leadership, a national non-profit organization committed to teaching girls the skills they need to "know who they are, what they believe, and how to express it, empowering them to create change in their world".
Being a teenager isn't easy. So, equipping them with the necessary life skills is so important.
Here are some skills that could greatly help your daughter as she navigates the muddy waters of her teen years.
1. How to speak up
It's widely accepted that most girls are very emotional so teaching them how to be emotionally intelligent rarely becomes a priority.
This means being able to honestly communicate their emotions, even the not-so pretty ones. Often, girls feel the need to be bubbly or likable that they sweep negative emotions under the rug.
But they should be free to voice out what they're really feeling and their parents should encourage this. Even if they say they're angry, scared, or frustrated, parents should allow their daughters to feel their way through the process.
2. Choosing the right friendships
Social skills aren't only developed during the teen years. Even before this time, girls should be able to handle relationships well. They should be able to determine their limits as well as how to assert themselves.
Parents should guide their children to choose healthy relationships and to recognize a toxic relationship a mile away.
Bullies can often come into their lives disguised as 'well-meaning friends'.
Asserting herself while always giving a kind but firm response is a skill she can use not just as a teen but it will benefit her well into her adult years.
3. How to lead
Girls often fear being labeled as 'pushy or bossy'. But this should be nipped in the bud. Young girls should be taught that it is possible to step up without stepping all over other people.
Once they feel comfortable expressing and asserting themselves, then taking the lead can come naturally.
Sports has been known to help in cultivating this attitude. They don't have to be the team captain but, being able to handle pressure and the responsibility to contribute positively to a team helps them gain the self-confidence to trust their gut-- a skill they will need later on in life.
4. Embracing gender identity
There's a lot of misinformed judgment thrown around which mostly sexualize the concept of gender identity. But what is often overlooked is how pure a pursuit it is, one that should begin early on in life.
Being aware of the existence of a gender spectrum which should not limit them to 'boy and girl' stereotypical behaviors allows them to explore their true selves.
It's also important not to limit characteristics to certain genders. Be open to their questions and encourage their curiousity. Trusting them to define their own identity will give them the confidence to embrace it, whatever that might be.
5. How to love themselves
Those who are their own worst critics probably adopted this attitude really early on in life. Some studies show that teen girls are more prone to interpersonal stress than boys, which puts them at greater risk for wallowing in negativity, and eventually, succumbing to depression.
Teaching them self-compassion also involves promoting a positive body image and the ability to forgive themselves. Failure will be a part of their teen and adult years; that's a given. So it's best to learn to roll with the punches as early as possible.
In the age of selfies and social media, it's easy for young girls to believe that the number of likes they get is proportional their self-worth. But teaching them to rise above this will help them grow into empowered individuals, constantly appreciative of their unique gifts and pushed towards their dreams with true purpose.
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