Are you looking to encourage and inspire your daughters to succeed in ways that are healthy and positive? Here’s advice based upon Dr. Sylvia Rimm’s books on parenting, giftedness, creativity, and underachievement.
How to Raise Happy and Successful Daughters
1. Promote self-sufficiency.
Prepare your daughters to find fulfillment for themselves outside of a partner. Girls observe what you say about your work, and if they hear positive statements about careers, they will look forward to preparing for their own opportunities.
2. Encourage competition.
Competition teaches the exhilaration of winning, the advantages of collaborating with a team and most of all, that no one wins all the time.
3. Cheer for their victories and losses.
Don’t over-commiserate about losses, and don’t make excuses for your daughters. They must learn how to bounce back. While success builds confidence, failure teaches coping skills to overcome obstacles in the safety of their family environment.
4. Teach resilience with gentle criticism.
Criticism and suggestions aren’t heard well in the joy of victory or the misery of defeat, but at a later time, reviewing and evaluating performance with a coach (that may be a parent) permits girls to understand how to improve without feeling as if they’re failures.
5. Avoid perfectionism.
Perfectionism traps girls into feeling inadequate and prevents risk-taking for fear of making mistakes. Be clear that while you expect their best effort, their best effort may not be the best performance in the group or contest.
6. Encourage perseverance and allow flexibility.
While girls should learn to work hard and persist, sometimes creative flexibility and changing direction are reasonable and shouldn’t be described as quitting.
7. Set an example for optimism.
Girls observe how parents cope with failure. When you learn from your failures and try new experiences with realistic optimism, you set good examples for your daughters.
8. Develop humor.
The ability to laugh at oneself and accept teasing by loving family members can put mistakes and failures into perspective. Girls who can poke fun at themselves are more likely to bounce back from losses.
9. Gauge your words.
Whether you talk directly to them or you talk about them, they hear what you say and are likely to believe you. Describing their performances as extraordinary, best or brilliant puts extreme pressure on them. Overreacting to their disappointment within their hearing causes them to feel sorry for themselves. If your chit-chat with reference to your daughters sounds positive and more moderate, they will likely feel more positive about their futures.
Dr. Sylvia Rimm is a psychologist, directs the Family Achievement Clinic in Ohio, and specializes in working with gifted children. Dr. Rimm speaks and publishes internationally on parenting, giftedness, creativity, and underachievement. Among her many books are How to Parent So Children Will Learn, Why Bright Kids Get Poor Grades, and Education of the Gifted and Talented.