How do you instill confidence in girls as they grow up?: originally appeared on Quora: The best answer to any question. Ask a question, get a great answer. Learn from experts and access insider knowledge. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.
I have two daughters who are both incredibly confident. When I think about how they came to be this way, it makes me very proud to have instilled a quality in them they will benefit from for life.
They believe they are worthy and special because they are treated well and disciplined fairly.
My girls have been taught to require respect for themselves and to treat others with respect and understand their behavior is what determines this respect.
I know their father treats them as cherished and loved little ladies.
I remind him that his example of how a man should treat a woman shapes their future choice in a mate. He sets an example, and I makes sure he spends quality time with both of them individually. He is a great father and reminds them how smart and special they are often.
I taught them compassion.
Early on I exposed my girls to people who were not as fortunate as we are. Starting at age 5, my children would partner with a girl their age in an inner-city school. We would arrange to bring any birthday presents my daughters received and a cake to the little girl's home, throwing her a birthday party.
I wanted my girls to understand even things like a birthday cake and party aren't always possible for some kids. It teaches them charity and recognizing little ways to make a difference. They feel confident they are helping others, even offering a pencil to a friend can make a person's day better. It's important they are not only aware of people who are unfortunate, but want to help them and make that a regular part of being a good citizen, not only of the world, but in their own backyard.
I taught them manners and required them to recognize when manners aren't being used.
This allows them to be comfortable speaking to anyone, adults and children. They ask appropriate questions, answer and can contribute to discussions and project an image of maturity and respect. It's a powerful way to interact with the world.
My daughters know how to handle conflict.
Because I've instilled a sense of right and wrong and set an exposé of how people deserve to be treated, my girls defend those weaker then they are. My 8-year-old only weighs 38lbs., but told a 4th grader to "leave my friend alone," recently when the girl was teased. They don't tolerate anyone being teased or bullied for any reason.
They respect and admire people who are different for themselves and treat them equally.
They don't discriminate because of race, sexual orientation or ability. They see the world as a place for everyone and happiness as a right. They treat people with physical or mental disabilities as people, not "different."
I have an open line of communication with my girls.
This, perhaps, is the most important thing I've done for their confidence, especially now that my oldest daughter is starting puberty and has a lot of "embarrassing" questions.
My daughters truly know I will never think a question they ask will be silly or wrong.
I will love them unconditionally and respect their feelings, even if I disagree with their actions. They can tell me the truth and I will not think less of them or love them less. I, in turn, will tell them the truth, even if it's not always pretty and what they would like to hear. This, of course, is tailored to their age and maturity. They know I support them in all their endeavors, even if they want to be a mermaid when they grow up.
I let them be themselves.
My youngest wore a Halloween shirt yesterday and mixes stripes and polka-dots. She's creative and loves to express herself through her clothes. If it "twirls" or sparkles, she's wearing it. My oldest is constantly singing and dancing everywhere. As long as she's not disruptive, I let her. They're quirky and I don't suppress it. They know they can be themselves and are comfortable with who they are.
Confidence is an important quality for girls to posses. I hope my daughters go through life demanding respect for themselves and others. It gives me piece of mind to know I've taught them how valuable, unique and special they are and how who they are inside is why I love them.
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