We want our daughters to grow as strong, independent little ladies with the potential to achieve what they have set their minds on. In today’s world, how can we ensure they see and feel the same about themselves?
Research published earlier this year shows that girls as young as 6 years old already believe that men are smarter and more talented than women. The belief in this stereotype, undeniably present in current society, is hindering girls from pursuing careers in fields like math and physics, say the researchers. We parents can do something about this:
1. Recite positive affirmations together -- like. Simple yet effective, we need to tell our daughters just how amazing they are. Take a cue from the dads from The Scene and their powerful words of encouragement. Copying them is easy. Write down all the things you want your little girl to believe about herself, then have her say it back in front of a mirror -- with conviction! See how the dads do it below.
Sample phrases you can copy from the dads include: “I believe in myself.” “I am fearless.” “I have wings to fly. I see no limit.” “I am loved.” “I am confident like [insert name of woman role model here].”
Recite these positive affirmations with your child as often as you like. They can work wonders on big days like the first day of school. They work for sons too, of course.
2. Expose your daughter to role models. Another great way to inspire your child is to expose her to examples of empowered women. For little kids, illustrator Amanda Allen Niday makes this easy with her versions of Disney Princesses as protestors of societal issues, including sexism. In the image, each princess is holding up a sign with a relevant line from their movies.
The Little Mermaid's Ariel's sign reads, “Bright young women/ sick of swimming/ ready to stand.” From the movie Aladdin, Jasmine's reads, “I am not a prize to be won.”
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“I wanted to recast my childhood heroes as the heroines I needed today,” Niday told Scary Mommy.
“I wanted to take these women whom I admire and incredibly influential to me, and set them onto a modern heroic path – fighting a fight that I need to fight,” Niday added. “And I believe that they would be because their stories are about strength, perseverance, and fighting when it might have been easier to give in.”
3. Choose good books. For local sources of inspiration, you can turn to children's books. Here are a few to look for at your favorite bookstore.
Maria's Colorful Banca Story by Ella Louise Francia and Minnie Francisco-Francia Illustrated by RJ Aquino and Janice Y. Perez
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This tale was inspired by the support and charity of Filipinos to their fellow countrymen who were devastated by Typhoon Yolanda. Many donated sums to build boats for the fishermen who lost theirs during the storm.
What's unique about this book though is an 11-year-old, Ella Louise Francia, co-wrote it. Like the others, she also donated a banca for a family living in Bantayan Island and was even there with them when it was being built. Ella wanted to share their story, and with the help of her mom Minnie, she's now a published author. For parents of aspiring writers, this is a great book to show your child that she too can make her dreams come true!
As mentioned in the research earlier, there is a need to persuade our girls that they can be anything they want to be, especially in fields that “cherish brilliance,” according to study authors. One of these fields is the sciences. Apart from having a girl as a scientist on the cover and as the main character, the book is an easy read, depicting qualities and skills a scientist should have, including determination and inquisitiveness.
Empowering our girls will nurture their spirit and help them blossom into the strong women we know they'll become. And, as in the examples above, even simple, everyday acts go a long way.