Women Share The Things They'd Tell Their Daughters To Instill Confidence

Kasia Mikolajczak
mother hugging daughter
Unsplash | Eye for Ebony

The world can be a cruel place, especially when you're a woman navigating through it. I can tell you so many stories when somebody made fun of me for things I had no control over. As a young person, it can definitely get to you.

But parents can do something about it. A recent Reddit thread asked, "What would you say to your daughter in order to grow up with excellent self-esteem?" and the answers given by people are the kind of pep-talk we all need. Let's check it out.

This Life's Truth

girl playing soccer on the field
Unsplash | Kenny Eliason

"You can't really give somebody self-esteem. It comes from within. This is why it's important for kids to be involved in things like sports, art, music. They need to learn how to try, how to overcome challenges and keep going. Kids who are just propped up with positive words (the best, the smartest, etc.) without any accomplishments to back up these statements can end up with self-worth that's based on external validation. Tell your daughter the truth. Help her figure out who she is as a person and support her through her struggles. Remind her of her accomplishments when she's in doubt. Let her fall on her ass and encourage her to get back up, and be there to help if she needs it."

I definitely agree with that strategy.

This Communication Idea

mother and daughter lauging on the beach
Unsplash | Thought Catalog

"Focus on their qualities outside of appearance. Teach them about consent, both explicit and implicit. Teach them to be kind, but also confident in their choices, which I think is so important in the face of peer pressure. Encourage exploration of different types of self-expression. Encourage freedom of expression of emotions. Help them articulate their feelings, thoughts, opinions. Open the line of communication for absolutely everything. Our children will be able to come to us with any question, any concern, at any time. And we will be willing to talk to them about it."

I love that.

This Consent Lesson

woman tickling a child
Unsplash | Gabe Pierce

"Consent is a big one, making sure they know they are in charge of their bodies. I start teaching consent with tickling, I let them know when they say 'stop; I will stop immediately, and I always stop. Sometimes they say 'stop' and then 'go' if they want more tickles. I know a lot of adults do tickle torture where they don’t stop because the kids are giggling and yelling stop but this is an easy first step for consent. I also offer 'hugs, high fives, or handshakes' and never force a hug or kiss, sometimes they just do a wave goodbye and that’s fine too!"

I think this is a big one too!

This Positive Self-Talk

Sign that says "You are worthy of love."
Unsplash | Tim Mossholder

"Model positive self-talk, even if I don’t feel that way about myself and my body. Children need to learn how to talk to themselves positively or the cycle of crappy self-esteem will never end.

My mother talked about me positively in so many ways, but not about herself. So I learned that positive talk only comes from outside sources. Also, I have anxiety so being heaped with praise stresses me TF out."

Children learn by watching their parents so positive self-talk can be taught that way.

This Family Legacy

three generations of women
Pexels | Pexels

"My family is a matriarchy, several generations of powerful women, and one thing we do for our girls that has a huge impact is this: Every time you find yourself complimenting a girl's looks, her appearance, her cute outfit — great, girls need that validation in this beauty-obsessed culture. But then look for the first possible opportunity to compliment her on something else: how brave she is, how funny her joke was, how smart she is, how fast. It's astonishing how often the natural thought is about her looks, even for third-generation feminists."

I hear that loud and clear.

This Active Listening

Drew Barrymore pointing and agreeing
Giphy | The Drew Barrymore Show

"It is more than saying stuff. It is listening to her opinion respectfully. It is not mocking her interests or putting down 'girly, teen girl' interests. It is not withdrawing approval and attention when she is 'bad.' It is not acting devastated when she does poorly in school."

This can have such a huge impact on a growing child, no?

This Failure Lesson

sign that says "if you never know failure you will never know success."
Unsplash | the blowup

"Let her know that failure is room for growth, and IT DOESN'T AFFECT HOW YOU FEEL ABOUT HER. Teach her to ask 'What can I learn from this?' instead of only 'Where did I go wrong?' Both questions are valid, but she needs both to truly grow. And teach her that her worth is not in what she does for other people but how she empowers others, sets a good example, and lives by the standards and values she comes to, and how she feels."

The truth is we all fail sometimes and it's totally okay. You learn from your mistakes.

This Powerful Statement

child standing in front of a yellow wall that says "believe in yourself."
Unsplash | Katrina Wright

As someone once said 'There will always be someone better than you, but they'll never be you.' And you can think of it in so many ways. Like someone can look better than you, be smarter than you, but they never got to be who you are."

I feel this in my core.

This Important Lesson

hand passing a black cutout of a heart to another hand
Unsplash | Kelly Sikkema

"Teach her to focus on her inner beauty (her intelligence, her wisdom, her kindness, empathy, and courage) rather than her external appearance."

I think this is so important. Many women grow up thinking that if they look good, that's the only thing they have to offer. We are so much more than that.

This Honest Truth

woman pointing and saying "that's right."
Giphy | iOne Digital

"Tell her that her worth is not defined by having to depend on a man. Tell her that she does not need a man or a ring on her finger in order to feel complete."

So many women get trapped in that way of thinking, no?

This Beautiful Life Lesson

paints and paint brushes
Unsplash | Steve Johnson

"I would raise a daughter much the same way my parents raised me. They helped me build skills that were independent of appearance. They got me involved in activities that built my sense of confidence, rather than looking good and acquiring things. I was involved in sports, music, and art growing up. All hobbies I loved which helped me express myself in creative ways and built a strong sense of self-esteem.

"Also, I was praised more for my efforts in these hobbies rather than the outcomes, which sometimes were not always positive, learning to tolerate failure taught me resilience and strength and to never give up."

I'm happy to hear this lady was raised right and she wants to pass this onto her children.

This Helpful Approach

woman saying "I love that."
Giphy | Rosanna Pansino

"I would say to her 'You’re super smart, you can figure it out yourself. You don’t need me. But if you do get stuck and you need help, I’m here, just call me. And if you make a mistake, well that’s just how we learn baby girl. We’ll clean it up and move on, wiser.'”

Honestly, I love that.

This Teaching By Example Idea

mother sitting with two kids on her lap holding a tablet
Unsplash | Alexander Dummer

"Less saying, more doing. Using life lessons as prime examples. Showing her WHY I’m choosing to make conscious decisions and my thought processes. Making sure to teach her to communicate well, express emotions healthily, recognize when something is not right, and how to navigate these scenarios."


These Life Skills

mom and daughter with a laptop
Pexels | Pexels

"I would instill a hard work ethic. Teach her analytics, finance, business management, accounting, and historical lessons. I would also teach her tool handling, appliance repair, electrical theory, pipe bending, electrical code, etc. I want her to be as useful to society as possible. I would let her know her worth and make sure she has healthy psychology. I want her psychology to be as healthy as possible. My family has a history of depression. She will be an extremely competent individual and have the tools to do whatever she wants. If I have a son or daughter they will be adaptive and hardworking. It’s a lot I know. But I want to start a new chapter in my family. A structured and healthy family that benefits each other. Build each other up through the generations instead of starting over on their wealth and skill with each offspring."

I'm so impressed with that.

This Self-Love

mother hugging a daughter under a flowering tree
Unsplash | Nathan Bingle

"My daughter's nearly 3, and I've taught her words to repeat to herself. So I will look at her and say, 'I am.' And she will say (about herself), 'I am kind.' I'll keep saying, 'I am,' and she comes out with words like 'funny,' 'happy,' 'loved,' 'cheeky.' I really want to teach her to love herself to avoid growing up feeling how I felt."

Aww, how sweet is that?

This Lesson Learned The Hard Way

woman saying "stand strong."
Giphy | Paramount Network

"Model standing up for yourself so that your daughter knows how to set good boundaries as she grows older. My mom was always very supportive of me but let my father walk all over her (and us), so I didn’t know how to stand up for myself as an adult and struggled to value my own autonomy. I’ve really struggled with feelings of low self-worth because of this."

Aww, sorry to hear that.

This Caring Approach

A mom whispering in her child's ear
Unsplash | Sai De Silva

"Give sincere attention to all the ridiculous stuff that’s important to them as they grow. Their pet water balloon breaking when they’re 5. Their socks not matching when they’re 8. Their tiff with their BFF when they’re 12. Listen gravely. Show you’re willing to give their concerns time and attention. Because If you don’t, you show them that you’re not interested in the things that are important to them. And if you're not interested in those things, why would they tell you about sexual abuse or drugs or bullying?"

This is absolutely right!

This Self-Forgiveness

neon sign that says "You got this."
Unsplash | Prateek Katyal

"Your worth has nothing to do with what anyone else thinks of you. It has everything to do with what you think of yourself. Did you do your best? Did you stay true to yourself and the people you love? If the answer is yes, you're going to be okay, even if people are mad at you. If the answer is no, your worth is STILL invaluable. You just know you can do better, and next time you will. Set right what you can and forgive yourself for the rest."

This is really profound, no?

Wow! I'm really impressed by these answers here.

woman pointing and "Facts" written on the screen
Giphy | Ryn Dean

This is exactly what I would do if I had a daughter. After all, self-confidence and self-worth start at home. If your kids see you saying awful things to yourself or others, they will carry that with them throughout their life. As parents, you have a responsibility to shape the future of your children, so we need to do better. Do you agree with that?