As a parent, it falls on us. To raise boys who respect girls. We are aware of this need. But do we remember that we need to be raising strong girls who are respectful? Who grow up to be not judgemental of other’s choices and situations?
International Women’s Day is a wonderful time to bring this home! Raising women who celebrate other women.
I have seen it. You have seen it. Every so often, we come across women who don’t understand our choices. Their snark comments and sly compliments leave us gaping and disheartened. What reels us more though is that this person is a woman.
At an early age, we see it in play-yard bullying. As we grow, we see it in our “frenemies”, when we get older we see it the judgment of our #momlife. In India, we see it from older women. A subtle condescension of our way of life when compared to the hardships they have endured. Women very easily forget that they have been girls.
I saw a video recently, that said that girls are as aggressive as boys and that aggression only grows emotionally, with age. It is only more visible in boys in physical action. In girls, it’s all about how to manipulate and vent on those closest to us. Namely the friends. And this is actually true!
Counter Mean Comments
This is so important to teach our girls, the effect that their words have on those around them. Mean comments, back handed compliments and snark responses are so potentially harmful. A great way is the toothpaste method. You take a tube of toothpaste and ask them to take out some onto a plate. When they do, ask them to put it back. When they respond helplessly, explain to them that this is how words are. When you say things that are unkind, it leads to a mess and that cannot be cleaned up no matter how much you desire or are sorry.
Ask your girl to compliment other girls as often as they can. Building others up and appreciating what other’s have is so very important to teach. Ask them to think about what they are going to say. Is it kind? Is it a compliment? Is it respectful? It is necessary to say? If not, it’s better to keep their comments to themselves.
No other time than now, to make sure our girls comprehend the ever lasting effect and consequences of words said in haste or spite!
Avoid Being Territorial
Girls, are very territorial. There is something innate within us, which protects viciously that which we consider OURS. Probably an instinctive thought that is a big part of our make up. This may be why we tend to feel threatened when our friends make new friends. But we need to impart to our girls early, that they need to be kind and nurture those we consider close to us.
A great way to do this is to be as social as possible yourself. By this, I do not mean parties every weekend but be friendly to every single person. Build your community with friends, acquaintances and strangers alike, caste, race, religion aside. The more our girls see US being open to new relationships, the more they open they will be.
Not everyone is a best friend. Little girls tend to think that every person they play with is their best friend. Specially if you have a people pleasure on your hands, who loves being the center of attention. This is what allows them to let slide a lot of mean comments passed by their so called friends. Relational bullying is the worst kind and our girls need to be able to identify that early. If your child is one, recognize and act on this instantly!
That comes from how we talk to them. Treating your daughter like a princess does not mean giving her the world. It means, teaching her to respect her herself and expecting nothing but kindness from those who surround her. And being okay with letting go of those who do not. I have spoken in detail about maintain friendships and teaching little kids to handle bullies in my bestselling book Strong Roots Have No Fear.
Be Mindful of Insecurities
Not happy enough. Not thin enough. Not fashionable enough. Just not enough. These insecurities make us do a lot of weird things. Women, from the time we are girls, are often fearful of losing what we have. We need to counter this by letting our girls know that they can depend on themselves for their happiness. Jealousy is possibly one of the most dangerous things to harbor within.
A wonderful way of this is to cheer for others in their joy. Often, parents seeing other child succeed worry about why their own child is not doing the same. Verbally. If instead of that, we rejoice in the success of others and use that to positively inspire us our girls will learn to do the same.
Breathe, Assess Before Reacting
A book I read recently, “Men are Waffles, Women are Spaghetti” spoke about how when women react to something, it is a reaction with a lot of history behind it. That women minds are intricate webs where everything is connected to teach other.
That really need not be the case. When some supposed infraction happens, we need to first see if it really has anything to do with us? Was the decision one for the person’s personal gain/needs or was it some way to hurt us? And even, if it was going to hurt us, is this really going to matter in 5-10 years time? This silly thing that someone has done that will soon become a thing of the past?
How do we impart this to little girls? By making them understand practically why they weren’t invited to a birthday party or a play date or why they aren’t getting something they really want. By focusing their thought process to think logically about they WHY of a situation. To teach them to see the other side of a conversation or situation.
Often, when we grow we harbor resentment and use it in consecutive situations. That just leads to lot of build up. Not every battle is worth fighting. Not every situation needs a reaction. Also, when you see your child being overly emotional about something and that time, bringing up other topics, make sure you bring their focus back to the situation on hand. Talk to her about how precious her tears are and how important it is for us to be mindful about what we are crying about.
Participate in Healthy Conversations
Everyone talks behind you. Again, this is an innate thing that happens between people. Not just girls. But there is a difference between gossip and unhealthy conversations.
Vents what happened to them and works on a solution to figure out how to better handle the situation. Unhealthy gossip is where people talk needlessly about other people’s lives, passing on rumors which are probably untrue or saying vicious things about someone just because they have been wronged in someway.
How do we teach young girls to not do that? When your child tells you something, be practical in your response to it. Divert their attention to how to better the situation the next time instead of calling up the other child’s parent and being aggressive. Recognize when children are being children and the consequence of your own actions before acting out.
Also, make sure your child knows the importance of keeping a friend’s secret. And that before passing on information, to be a 100% sure it is true. For a misplaced rumor is damaging and it all comes back to you.
People, not just children are most susceptible to peer pressure. It all begins with what other kids have and just never ends.We need to teach our girls to be able to own their choices. To stand tall for themselves and for others, if need be. That we don’t need something or have to do something, just because another has it. Our actions are based on our family’s needs and the circumstances unique to us. This also helps build empathy and understanding of others, for everyone has their issues.
Give them ample respectful answers for things they are teased about and let them know we as parents stand behind them a 100%.
Make sure you read to them stories of friendship, love, caring and kindness.
If we want to raise girls who do not judge other, we need to first and foremost stop judging other women and celebrating them. Let those small things go and fight for what’s right.