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7 Ways to Raise a Passionate, Powerful, Confident Girl

Do you ever worry about your daughter being too shy or too mean? Now more than ever, we need to teach our girls how use their voices effectively. Here are 7 ways to do just that:

1. Prepare her.

Some workplaces and men don't appreciate powerful women. This doesn't mean she needs to hold back. But it does mean she needs the awareness that others may feel threatened by her. "Help her to find the delicate balance between being sensitive to others and not caring too much about what others think,"

suggests play therapist Nicole Stern*. She can combat this by developing a keen sense of listening, empathy and team work. Teach her how to help others succeed too, this minimizes their perceived threat. And inspires others and sends the message, "It's ok for you to be your cool self!"

2. Show integrity.

Being in-congruent between what you say and what you do causes disconnection. For example, if you tell her it is important to be nice to people and then you turn around and gossip, you are messing with her sense of righteousness. This one of the hot buttons for teens.

3. Avoid following the crowd mentality.

You can do this by asking her opinion or advice frequently. Find something she says that you can implement and then acknowledge her for it. Take her to your business meetings and ask her opinion of what happened in the meeting. This helps her develop confidence in her voice.

For tween/teens, ask her questions about the media. Like, "What do you think that commercial is trying to get you to do?" "What is the message they are sending?" "How does it make you feel about yourself?" You can talk about how sex is frequently portrayed in the media without love, intimacy or emotion rather than being one part of a caring relationship. And then ask, "What problems could that lead to?" Make sure you ask these questions from curiosity rather than morality or judgement. The latter two will lead to her shut down mode.

Ms. Stern also suggests, "Find healthy role models of courageous girls or women and tell your daughter to 'check her out'!"

4. Stop talking.

Often our girls perceive us as talking at them instead of talking with them. When this happens, they not only stop listening but they also stop thinking on their own. They either become compliant or defiant. Listen more than you talk. When we listen, she has to think about what she is saying and tends to reflect more. When we listen, we give her an opportunity to develop her own internal GPS. She gets to hear what she is thinking. She gets to determine whether what she is thinking makes sense or not.

Don't pretend to listen. The difference between listening and pretending to listen is enormous. One is fluid, the other is rigid. One is alive, the other is canned. Real listening is a willingness to let her change you. When you are willing to let her change you, your relationship becomes magical.

5. Create space.

Create consistent, predictable times when she knows you are receptive and available to listen - like riding in a car, taking a walk, or hanging out in her room before bedtime - you will eventually be let into her inner world. Let her use you as a sounding board to sort out what she is going through. Here comes the tough part - without solving her problems or giving unsolicited advice. A great question to ask is, "What do you need from me?" or "How can I support you?"

6. Welcome disagreement and even anger.

If she can't stand up to you and be heard, she won't be able to with friends, teachers, coaches, a boyfriend, or future bosses. Your daughter needs guidance about how to stay clear in her disagreements. She needs your support to not give up her convictions in order to maintain a false sense of harmony. Teach her how to disagree without making others wrong or being mean. Her anger means she's passionate and that is an important flame you don't want to put out.

7. Enjoy her!

Raising a powerful girl can be exciting and energizing. Stay connected by finding activities you both enjoy and do them regularly...having a special pastry shop or enjoying breakfast together, hiking or reading books. "This teaches her the foundations for creating healthy relationships," Stern says. Keep this connection sacred as she gets older - when times get tough, you'll have a special bond to get you through them!

Parenting Practice

Go through the list above. Choose one and put it into practice this week.

**Nicole Nicolaisen Stern LMHC, MAEds, is a Gainesville, Fl Play Therapist and kick boxing instructor. You can contact her at**


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Kathryn Kvols

Author, Lecturer, Parenting Coach

(352) 494-1581

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