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How to raise happy, confident daughters with grit

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This story is sponsored by Robert J DeBry and Associates. Learn more about Robert J DeBry and Associates.


At first glance, raising daughters may seem like a world filled with princesses, ponytails and tea parties, but that isn’t reality. Girls are beautiful, strong and capable, and when given the chance, they can change the world.

But how do you raise daughters who can reach their potential? For starters, they must be happy and confident. And according to research psychologist and best-selling author Angela Duckworth, they must have grit.

Robert J. DeBry and Associates has brought you seven ways to raise happy, confident daughters with grit.

1. Let her be her authentic self

According to Duckworth, talent is born, not made.

If your daughter loves braiding hair and dressing in creative outfits, let her. If she wants nothing more than to dig in the dirt and collect bugs to bring home, encourage her. If she’d rather spend her time reading books and writing poetry than hanging out with friends, get her a library card and let her do her thing.

If she is free to be her authentic self, then she will be confident in what she likes, what she wants to be and, more importantly, who she is.

2. Don’t be afraid to say ‘yes’

One of the most wonderful and difficult things as a parent is seeing your child have unbridled ambitions. Perhaps your daughter wants to be a clothing designer and will cut up a pair of jeans or add glitter to her favorite shirt.

While you love the ambition, you’re less than excited about the mess and perhaps the potential for failure. But think of all the possibilities if you just say yes. She could make a cool pair of jeans even cooler or she could fail. Both are meaningful endings.

3. Don’t let her quit (on a hard day)

Duckworth said in her TED talk, “Grit is sticking with your future, day in day out for years, working really hard to make that future a reality.”

Teach your daughters that grit comes from playing in the rain, returning to class after getting a bad grade, going back to practice after being reprimanded by your coach, and from continuing to write that essay even when the words don’t come — because they eventually will.

Teach her that obstacles are there to test her ability to overcome them, they’re not there to stop her.

4. Let her be sad

You can’t appreciate success without failure, just like you can’t truly be happy without knowing what it’s like to be sad. When your daughter needs to cry, give her your shoulder to lean on. Be a safe place for her to share her sorrows. Be empathetic to her woes.

5. Give her chances to succeed

As important as it is to be able to be sad and to overcome failures, is to be able to know what it feels like to succeed.

Take, for example, a girl who is the star soccer player on a losing team. Sure, she may be a leader on that team. Sure, she is learning how to lose and still persevere. However, there comes a time when she will need to see the rewards of her hard work, and that may mean finding a team with a better success record.

Soon, you will find that the spark will come back for what she loves, and you will see your happy and confident girl again.

6. Be a good role model

Parents want the best for their children but often neglect themselves in the process. If you want happy daughters, show them how to be happy. If you want her to be confident, show her what she needs to be confident. If you want her to be tenacious and gritty, show her that you can do hard things, too.

7. Love her

There is that old Beatles song that repeats over and over the lyrics, “All you need is love, love is all you need.”

And it’s true.

If your daughter knows she is loved for who she is and that she is supported in her desires, then happiness will come more freely, confidence will show in her countenance and action, and her desire and determination to reach her potential will be a result of the grit that she shows in her pursuits.