We seem to have measurements for everything these days. In the first seconds of life, our kids’ physical health is measured with weight and length. In schools, we have standardized tests and grades to measure our kids’ academic strengths. But how can we measure our kids’ emotional strength?
How can we know that we are raising emotionally strong girls?
Resiliency, confidence, self-esteem, finding her voice to speak up for herself and others in need, setting a goal and working really hard to achieve something, managing disappointments and failures with courage — to name a few.
How can we make all of this happen?
Emotional strength isn’t measured in numbers — it’s a lifelong process.
Here’s how to raise an emotionally strong girl…
1. Time to just be. Our daughters are busy every minute of the day. They are busy socially, academically, physically, emotionally, and they are constantly balancing friends and emotions. They need moments in the day when they can rest from life’s pressures. They need to curl up in a chair and read, watch mindless TV, color a picture or better yet, play. Finding a whole day with nothing to do seems very rare these days. Build in down time for your daughters, teach them to use down time, help them get comfortable being with themselves. Encourage her to take five minutes all alone to process her day, think through the next day or just day dream about life!
2. Adventure. Show your daughters they can accomplish things. Show them they have power, physically and emotionally. Give them an experience they have never had and show them the pure joy of accomplishing something new! Put them in a canoe, in front of a rock wall, behind the wheel of a go-cart or run a 5K! Do it together. Change a tire just so they know how. Climb up onto the roof just to see how far you can see. Take them somewhere far away with no internet connection! Hop into the car with them and have them navigate their way somewhere new. Show them the thrill of adventure!
3. Opportunities to give back. Doing good for others teaches kindness, empathy and tolerance. Give your girls opportunities to give back. Maybe that’s within her own family, at school, in her town or within the world in general. Help her organize a drive at school or participate in the ones offered. If there is a fun run, have her participate. As a family, gather things you don’t use anymore or food and donate to the local shelter. Have her donate items that have value, not just the junk she doesn’t want anymore. Connecting them to others and their community allows them to learn compassion and gratitude.
4. A soft spot to land. Our girls venture out into a scary world every day. They are physically growing and changing every day and they face enormous social, emotional and academic pressures. They need a soft place to land at the end of their day. They need a place where they can shut down and relax, a comfy chair and a safe atmosphere when they can avoid all of those pressures. We can create that by being open to conversations or observations, by setting a standard of shutting off media and disconnecting for at least a short time every day. Create a home that is safe and comfortable emotionally. Be a soft spot for them yourself by being kind and compassionate and open to offering support. Be willing to listen with an open heart and provide a nurturing space for our daughters to recharge and be empowered to go back out into the world!
5. Know when to offer an opinion and when to simply keep quiet. Ask questions, learn about your daughters, encourage them to share, find out what makes them tick, what bugs them, what they want from the world. Be ready to listen and be quiet enough about homework and grades and responsibilities, to just hear what her worries are at that moment. That information that you patiently wait for is your moment to teach, to support your daughter, to show her you care. Show a casual interest and openness to hear absolutely anything and maybe everything. Your daughter will start talking at the most unlikely moments. Those are the moments to wait for, look for and be open to. She needs you and will find you in the most unlikely moments! Be ready.