Despite living in the 21st century, where we believe that we have risen above being biased by color, caste or sexual orientation, the society still gives a lot of importance to gender-defined roles. Where 66% of the entire workforce is still predominantly male, we need to teach our girls to be brave and not be perfect.
Perfection, beauty, and youth are the paramount values that must be inculcated in a girl. The very thought is flawed! Her true identity is not the way she looks but the way she behaves, her willingness to take chances to stand up for herself and to be brave in all circumstances. But as a parent how do we raise a girl child where 50% of the women population says they have given up on their dreams and are unsatisfied with their life.
Girls have always been raised as people pleasers. They have been continuously told to look good, cook well and make their family happy.
Whereas boys are appreciated when they do the heavy lifting and get messy but why do we need to compartmentalize our kids into being manly and girly. How do we raise our girl to be whom so ever they want? Teach them to be brave and happy, and not just seek perfection.
Here’s How To Teach Girls Bravery, Not Perfection!
1. Open up their mind
Rewind back to the time when we were kids, a bunch of 7 or 8 years old. Boys were encouraged even though they did not succeed. When they use to fall down or scrap their knees, it never mattered much as little scars only made them look manly and it is a sign of “Well Tried”. On the other hand, a girl is always praised in the field of looks. Boys were made to try harder and broaden up their mindset in order to achieve what they wanted. Girls are not challenged. With praises like ‘beautiful’, ‘smart’, the adults have made the mind of daughters static.
Every other young girl wants to buy makeup, or Barbie dolls and boys would like to purchase skating boards. In order to broaden their horizons, we need let them explore, praise them for trying and subtly push them to do more.
Let their mind grow beyond their beauty and into the utilization of their mind. Challenge their minds and praise them for taking it up.
2. Teach them to stay strong
Bravery is about never quitting and never to give up in case of stress or failure. If you teach your girls to take up challenges, you ought to prepare them to face failures. Teach your girl to stand up after falling and then to try again.
They might not be successful at every opportunity, but it makes them strong in body, mind, and soul. They will be resilient and would be able to manage stress and cope with unfriendly circumstances or unfamiliar environment. Teach them to remain motivated and aspire for more. Never giving up and fighting after their failure will make them brave!
3. Teach them self-compassion and empathy
Perfection and self-compassion cannot co-exist. What would you do if you find your girl is feeling sad because she is not perfect? In such a situation we need to teach them to love themselves. Imperfect we may be but love what we have and that should be enough.
As a parent, we should help shift a girl child’s focus to the things like compassion, empathy and above all self-forgiveness and self-love.
Never let self-criticism beat her down, it simply fuels guilt and shame. Tell her to be brave is to forgive herself and never feel guilty about any imperfections.
4. Shame and regret have no place in the mindset of the brave
Shame and regret do not help in the positive thinking. It is like a downward spiral. Dr. Kelly McGonigal, a health psychologist suggests a 3 step process to be brave when you experience a set back
a. After experiencing the failure, access it
Give it a name. Do not try to escape the emotion. Tell your child to slow down and take it all in. The very first step helps to come terms with the sense of regret, one must not escape them.
b. Tell your child, they are not alone in this situation
Make your daughter understand that failures are a part of growing up and getting better. Without any setbacks, you can never grow. Success comes to those who have failed and then they come back even stronger. Everyone has faced such failures at some point in life. Lead by example and prepare her for the future challenges.
c. As I have explained earlier, our daughters are overcritical of themselves, they need to understand that if the similar thing would have happened to any one of their friends, they would not be so. They would probably explain to them to move ahead and let these setbacks be a lesson.
5. Never differentiate between a girl and a boy
Our society is such that the comparison can never cease between a girl and a boy. But if we want our girls to be brave, in order to take on the world, we must not differentiate between the two genders. Girls are not supposed to smile and wave to play it safe. And boys should not be expected to play rough take up opportunities to prove their strengths. Give them equal challenges and motivate them equally.
Girls may give it up, but push them to work as hard as they can. There are approximately 600,000 job openings in the telecommunication domain, but not many girls like to apply as they cannot take the challenge if they feel they are not 100% fit for the role. Whereas, boys apply for a job if they think if they are 60% qualified for the position.
In conclusion, I would like to tell about Reshma Saujani, who is the founder of an NGO – Girls Who Code; said that by teaching the girl to code is like making them brave. Let them code, as coding helps to cope with failures; you fall not once but many times. You need to get up and try again. When she started this organization in 2002, she believed she could bring in some changes.
My younger sister, who is a programmer herself, says it is tough being in a profession, which is dominated by men. You need to prove their mettle again and again. She does it every day, not because she is perfect but because she is brave, who can get up and fight back, let’s teach our girls to be perfectly brave; take up challenges and earn your spot.
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