01/30/2014 05:39 pm ET Updated Apr 01, 2014

5 Ways to Build Your Daughter's Confidence

Sarah Driscoll

Growing up, I had confidence issues. My daddy always told me I was beautiful. So, why didn't I feel beautiful?

Well, for starters, as a young girl, I couldn't have cared less about being pretty. I wanted to be smart and strong. But, no one ever told me that I was smart or strong. I only ever got compliments on my beauty.

Clearly, beauty was my strong suit... so I stuck with it. In fact, I became obsessed with it. I knew that I would never be the smartest, so I thought I had to be the prettiest. I had to be perfect. But, nobody is perfect.

Now, as mother to a daughter, I never want to set her up to feel obligated to be the prettiest. Or to feel obligated to be the smartest. I want her to be whoever she wants to be. She does not have to do anything to impress me. She impresses me as she is (a little blonde flame). Solace for me is seeing my daughter happy and confident. But, how do I make sure that she possesses these traits always?

5 Ways to Build Your Daughter's Confidence:

1. Back her up. Let her know you are there, whether she is up or down. Always. Unconditionally. She will be more confident to face the world if she knows that someone is backing her in every single decision she makes.

2. Listen more than you talk. As her parent, it is natural that she will see your words as condescending, if you do not choose them wisely. The best approach is to listen and let her talk through her issues. Life (and the heaps of emotions that accompany it) becomes more clear when it is discussed. While she is sharing her life with you, show support and understanding. But more importantly, relate to what she says. She needs to know that what she is saying, feeling and doing are normal and part of life. Coach her into solving her problems with a little (and unnoticed) nudge in the right direction.

3. Encourage passion. Let her explore her passions freely. She may not follow in your footsteps. Let her make her own. She may play soccer, rock at the piano or maybe she will be interested in insects. At the end of the day, it's her life. Who are you to steer her clear of spiders and football because long legs and tackles make you cringe? They may light a fire inside your daughter. Passion is her gateway to happiness. And if she can find happiness, confidence will follow.

4. Let her cry. Don't let her be afraid to express herself. She should not only be proud of who she is, but also in her ability to love, hate, cry and laugh. Encourage her to share her emotions freely without reserve. There is an innocence and honesty to those who are confident enough to express themselves without fear of judgment.

5. A unique beauty. Tell her she is beautiful and unique. She is, after all, uniquely beautiful. She should be confident inside and out. She should know the qualities that she possesses. She should know what she is able to give to the world and those around her. Tell her when she is acting kindly, when her smile is lighting up a room and when she is making you happy. She should know that she is smart and strong, not just beautiful. And for goodness' sake, if you are proud of her, tell her, so she can be proud of herself.

Happy girls are the prettiest.

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