Fair & reasonable criticism is necessary for children to become self-aware and independent, & allows them to set high standards, teaches them to compete, and become their best! However, critique without the necessary support can be detrimental to an individual’s self-esteem, leading to the internalization of constant negative thoughts. Be mindful however that all children need to be humble in their quest for success, so not being THE best, but YOUR best is the most important teaching!
According to Stephanie Britt, the most accurate predictor of achievement is not based on family income or social status, but rather cultivating a driven and loving home environment. It is imperative that parents communicate high, yet reasonable expectations, while establishing an open line of communication. So how can we teach our daughters to be successful? Here are a few tips to set them up for a bright future.
1. Encourage them to Recognize Self Worth
Having a strong foundation for resilience will help girls manage criticism from others and self-criticism from within. Teaching girls to practice self-compassion, and empathy for others, especially when something does not go as planned, will provide them with the emotional strength and discipline to better face adversity in the future.
According to Stephanie Britt, it is common for young girls to suffer from a self-sabotage mentality; however, this type of thinking decreases confidence and hinders performance. It is essential that girls understand that it is okay to make mistakes, so long as they use them as a learning opportunity.
Once they have permission to be imperfect, constructive criticism will help them perform better next time.
Always reward the effort, never the outcome. If your daughter is a cheerleader for example, never give too much reward for wins and give the same little regard for losses. But put the emphasis on the work ethic, leadership, teamwork, and how they HANDLE winning and losing. Same goes for a specific skill or level. If parents never make too big of a particular trick, the child’s identity will not be wrapped up said trick. Many athletes experience blocks. It strips the child of their self-worth if her parents put too much focus on sports! Make a BIG FUSS over character, hard work, kindness, humility, as well as academics. Again, be careful to reward effort and improvement. If your child’s best is average, learn to celebrate THAT!
2. Teach Them to Treat Others Well
We live in a society that values individualism and being the best. This can put a lot of pressure on our daughters, Stephanie Britt says especially at times when they are struggling in areas such as academics, sports, or their personal life. Establishing a strong social network of support can help young girls move past difficult life moments.
Studies demonstrate that social connections are the biggest predictors of future happiness and health — and success. Learning to put oneself in other people’s shoes can also help our daughters reflect on their own situations with more compassion. Help her to always consider how the losing team feels, or the child who didn’t make the team. You will find the world treats your daughter with more compassion when she is gentle and selfless.
3. Let Them Know You Have their Best Interest in Mind
As a mother, Stephanie Britt understands the importance of ensuring her daughters understand that any criticism she may have is out of concern for her emotional and physical well being. Advice for improvement can often be difficult to hear; however, taking the time to explain your criticism will ensure they take your feedback to heart. Stephanie claims that unfair judgement and vague commentary can often have the opposite effect, and leave young girls feeling unmotivated. Rules without relationship lead to rebellion. Be sure to always let them know you love them, and why you parent and push and enforce guidelines! They may not always be thankful at the time, but they will be more successful in the future!
4. Be an Active Listener
Stephanie Britt describes how children want appraisal and validation from parents, and there is no better way to build trust than to validate how they feel and who they are. Listening to our daughters will help create the foundation of a strong relationship and will help them internalize and understand that we want what’s best for them. Creating a safe space of trust will help our daughters be more receptive when we offer constructive criticism to help them improve. However, be careful not to perpetuate negativity by not allowing unfounded, untrue, or unhealthy thoughts to flow. Do not give “life” to mania by making them be silent sometimes when their emotional so not to say or think negative thoughts. Breed positivity by asking them pointed questions like “what was the BEST thing that happened to you today” or “who is your FAVORITE teacher?” Teenage girls are often negative and see the worst in everything. Stephanie Britt suggests that by changing the culture of your household by demanding only positive thoughts and words. Teach them to see the positive in every situation. I was clear to my children that we would not gripe & complain…. but would instead merely wipe out the negative from our lives. So if they complained about friends or school or an activity-we would no longer continue with said friend. They quickly learned to only vent or complain when the situation was substantial and necessary. No one will succeed who is a Debbie Downer! Teach enthusiasm and excitement and positivity! “It’s easy to find the dirt in someone’s eye — -find the GOLD!” negative parents breed negative children. Be careful of the family culture! Keep adult conversation very private and keep the “world” that your children grow in very intentional!