As a healthcare professional that’s served hundreds of patients from all walks of life over the last 13 years, I can tell you that the most successful individuals are those with the right attitude about themselves. Ultimately, it all comes down to having self-confidence.
It’s a common misconception that self-confidence is something you’re either born with or without, but it’s actually something that can be determined by a combination of skills that involve having a certain mindset, self-awareness and decision-making abilities. Most people are unaware that this combination is even a choice, but the success in obtaining self-confidence can be heavily influenced by their parents, peers and through their personal experiences.
Imagine if there was a way for your daughter to master these skills early in her life. How might this enhance the path of navigating money, health, career or relationships for her future?
A strong sense of self-belief is a quality that must come from within. However, how you can help your daughter develop her own is often unclear. Here are 5 effective actions you can take to start building your daughter’s confidence.
1. Lead by example
Actions speak louder than words. Connect your spoken guidance on how to embody positive qualities for your daughter in your actions.
A powerful way to encourage positive behaviour in your daughter is not by telling her how, but by showing her how. Children subconsciously model a majority of their behaviour and develop their perception of life from their parents.
If you have only been telling your daughter how she should be without exhibiting these traits yourself, then it would have been showing a disconnect between your words and your actions.
A leader’s ability to influence others lies in what they do, not in what they say. There must be integrity to the advice you are providing to increase your daughter’s willingness to accept your help.
For example, do you have boundaries with how much time you spend on your phone if you’re concerned with how much time your daughter spends on hers? Do you have a healthy relationship with food or keeping active if you are worried that your daughter’s not taking care of themselves?
Ask yourself how you handle stressful situations if you are concerned about her emotional state. Are you concerned with her negative self-talk/body image? Have you openly criticized yourself in some way? Perhaps about your job performance or something regarding your physical appearance? Or if you are hoping for her to communicate more openly instead of being withdrawn, then perhaps reflect on how comfortable you are with expressing your emotions.
2. Create value
Observe your daughter’s unique qualities and be vocal about expressing them to her.
William James, an American philosopher and psychologist, once said, “The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated”. We all desire recognition for our worth and strive to feel that we have a purpose in life.
Acknowledging your daughter will cultivate feelings of self-value for her. It is of utmost importance that you verbalise your acknowledgement because our thoughts can get lost in translation when we assume that the other person can read our minds.
Your daughter’s value is about who they are, not what they do. The more specific you can be with appreciating who she is, the worthier she will feel because the value she provides becomes unique to her.
For example, your daughter could be supporting someone in need, helping out around the house, applying for jobs on her own, buying tickets to an event with the money she earned herself, volunteering her time for charity work, etc. The value is not the act of these achievements but it is in her kindness, compassion, discipline and independence as a person.
Encourage your daughter to set goals or participate in activities that give back because as human beings, we value things that have an impact on others or things that we have earned. How much more deserving does it feel when the reward is something that we have worked towards?
3. Praise positive behaviour
Ensure that the desired behaviour for your daughter is an emotionally appealing experience for her.
Praise the times your daughter exhibits healthy habits to reinforce the behaviour. Not only will it encourage her self-esteem, but it will also help her to associate the habit with a positive experience. Therefore, inspiring her to continue the behaviour. On the contrary, focusing too much on what needs improvement can demoralize her self-confidence.
Burrhus Frederic Skinner was a highly influential psychologist that was known for his research in behavioural conditioning. He conducted several studies demonstrating that people would repeat behaviour that was immediately reinforced with value. We can apply this principle to the world of business, teaching, relationships, and parenting.
When it comes to parenting, positive reinforcement is best communicated through praise, recognition and appreciation because rewarding teenagers solely with something of monetary value can subconsciously teach them to associate their self-worth with materialistic possessions.
Start by observing your daughter’s habits and then progress onto behaviour you would like her to aspire to. For example; “I’m really proud of how you put your phone aside and stayed focused on your homework”, “I’m glad you could share that with me, I know it wasn’t easy.” or “Thank you for doing the dishes tonight, you’ve been a great help to me”. It seems so simple, yet it is forgotten amongst the tendency to reprimand undesired behaviour.
4. Highlight their efforts
Help your daughter feel grateful for how she showed up with what she has achieved or tried to achieve, instead of focussing on what she is yet to accomplish.
Self-confident people interpret feedback how they choose to. Inspire your daughter on how to appreciate the effort she put into achieving her goals rather than just emphasising on goals she is yet to reach.
The inability to acknowledge the process as achievement will only cause a sense of self-doubt or feelings of “I’m not good enough”, which is one of the quickest ways to crush self-confidence. Choosing to celebrate every success instead will give her the belief and motivation to achieve bigger goals.
Help your daughter set goals, including the small achievable steps on how to complete them. Begin with something that she feels entirely capable of doing, building on the actions required for each step forward and helping her recognise her input as she goes along. Fears around the unknown can discourage her from trying in the first place, which is why a clear step-by-step strategy can be a practical way to remove any self-doubt.
5. Love is the answer
Show your daughter that you love her unconditionally in all the different ways.
Our self-worth comes from a paradigm based on whether we believe we are loveable or unlovable. It is the reason why the fear of not being accepted or wanting to be accepted by others drives so much of what we do in life.
Whilst your daughter’s belief that she is worthy must fundamentally be self-cultivated, as a parent, you have a vital role in showing her that she matters and that she is loved.
Ensure that your love for your daughter is unconditional, which means it should be displayed freely and not only under the conditions of when she behaves in a way that pleases you.
Observe and communicate what you require from each other in order to feel loved because it can be easily misinterpreted if your expression of love is misaligned with your daughter’s.
Some examples of different ways to communicate your love:
- Give your daughter your most valuable asset – your time and presence, especially when they need it most. Spend uninterrupted, quality time together doing things you both enjoy.
- Verbalize that you love and care for her – i.e. “I love you” or “I’m always here for you”.
- Show your interest in things that matter to her even if you don’t necessarily understand the importance yourself – i.e. show up to her basketball games.
- Display physical affection – i.e. hugs, backrubs and kisses.
- Tell her exactly what it is you love about her. Not only does this create an environment where she can feel accepted to be herself, but it also encourages her to express her individualism.
These 5 strategies may seem insignificant, but if you can commit to these small habits consistently, not only will you experience a deeper connection within your family, but you can expect happier, healthier changes in yourself and the ones you love most.
Fiona Lam is a Melbourne-based naturopath with a special interest in supporting patients with stress-related disorders and mental health. Fiona has over 13 years of clinical experience and is also a certified Neuro-Emotional Technique (NET) practitioner.
Fiona’s practice has a focus on providing effective physical, mental and emotional support for teenage patients suffering from mood disorders. Fiona’s passion is to continue providing both professional and practical strategies to help adolescents manage their stress, which led her to develop Wander Base, a 7-Step online program for building resilience and self-confidence for young women.