Raising girls who like themselves
…in a world that tells them they’re flawed
Today’s society can be toxic for girls, can what we do as parents really make a difference? Yes!
According to husband-and-wife writing and researching team (and parents of two daughters), Kasey Edwards and Christopher Scanlon, when you raise a girl who likes herself, everything else follows. Your daughter will strive for excellence because she has faith in her ability to achieve it and the confidence to pick herself up. She will nurture her physical and mental health because it’s natural to care for something you love. She will insist on healthy relationships because she believes she deserves nothing less.
Raising Girls Who Like Themselves details the seven qualities that enable girls to thrive and arm themselves against a world that tells them they are flawed. Packed with practical, evidence-based advice, it is the indispensable guide to raising a girl who is happy and confident in herself.
We chatted Kasey and Chris on KIDDO chats about these qualities and how we can work to instil them in our own daughters, so they too will grow up liking themselves.
You can listen to the full episode on your podcast app (this is a must-listen for parents of girls!), but we’ve rounded up just a small excerpt of their invaluable insights below to get you started!
The first chapter in the book talks about the idea of a power perspective. What is a power perspective and why is it so important for our girls?
Chris: A power perspective is a term that we cobbled together from a range of different approaches, concepts and ideas in psychology. One of the most important of those is what’s called having an internal locus of control, and that means that as you go about the world you actually feel you have the resources to weather whatever the world throws at you, and that you have it within yourself. As opposed to an external locus of control; constantly worrying about what the external world will do to you and how it might control you. There’s all this research which shows that people who have an internal locus of control tend to have better relationships and do better in the workplace. They tend to have better mental and physical health. It’s really about being resilient and feeling like you have the resources within yourself to take on the world. We want to instill that in our girls, rather than have them be victims of circumstance.
Kasey: The core to that is that our emotions don’t just happen. You don’t just sail through life and suddenly you feel bad or you feel insecure. A thought happens first. We have a thought and then we have a feeling. If we can encourage our girls to have thoughts that serve them, rather than don’t, then they’re going to have better emotions.
Can you give us some tips towards helping parents to help our girls develop a power perspective?
Chris: A small example is, when they come and ask us what we think of what they’ve done, to turn that around and ask them what they think of it. For example, if they’ve done a painting, or drawn a picture and ask us to give a judgment, looking for that external person to validate what they’ve done, reframe that and turn it around and say “what do you think of it?” And if they don’t like it then ask “what would you do differently” so they start to think about what they could do differently in the future and what they could do to make that future happen. So they’re always being coached and directed to think that what they think is actually the most important thing here, or it’s as important, rather than seeking that external validation all the time.
Let’s talk about body confidence which is obviously quite a big one for girls in this day and age. Can you break down some of the key tips towards how we can speak to our girls from an early age to inoculate them against these early toxic messages in life that their beauty is the most important thing about them?
Kasey: We believe that the key to body confidence is not having a daughter who’s constantly told she’s beautiful. It’s not even having a daughter who believes she’s beautiful. It’s about having a girl and encouraging your girl to not care that much, whether or not she is beautiful. To build up her identity and herself worth on a firmer foundation than what other people think she looks like.
You say in your book “as with the idea of body love, if people are always talking about how pretty a girl is, the girl will naturally assume that her beauty is really important”. If parents have been telling our daughter’s they’re beautiful and unknowingly reinforcing the importance of it – what do we do now to reverse it?
Kasey: We’re not saying that you should never tell your daughters that they’re beautiful. Our daughters know that we think they’re beautiful, but they also know that we don’t think it’s important. So if we wrote a list of all the things that we loved and valued about them, their beauty is not even on the list. It’s about getting the balance right. I think one of the things you can start to do is ensure to unpack it a little bit more for them and talk about what beauty is; beauty is kindness, beauty is generosity. These other kinds of things that we really want to aspire to, really lay that out, so when I say “you’re beautiful” it’s not just about your appearance, it’s about all of these other things they’re doing as well.
Can you give us some tips on how to raise girls who speak for themselves?
Kasey: Our tip is to start in a cafe because there’s a natural incentive there; if you don’t order for yourself, you don’t get! From the very earliest stage of our daughters lives, as soon as they are able to, point to the menu. And with older children, when it comes to order, you look the person in the eye, you ask for what you want and you say please. And then when the food comes, you look them in the eye again, and you say thank you. The thing to remember is that with any skill it takes time and practice.
To listen to the full interview with Kasey and Chris about the seven essential parenting pillars to protect and free your daughter from anxiety, depression, body hatred, poor self-esteem, peer pressure and friendship problems (and it’s well worth a listen!), head to KIDDO chats on your podcast app.
Raising Girls who like themselves is published by Penguin Random House and available in all good bookstores.
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