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Some things to teach girls

WHEN girls are confident, they rarely give into oppressive and abusive people. We can steer our girls away from these types of relationships by ensuring healthy self-esteem. Girls need to feel good about themselves regardless of their various shapes, sizes and shortcomings. Confidence grows when a girl feels cherished, loved and has the security of a stable family unit – these basics are her unwavering foundation.

From self-esteem grows self-respect. Girls with self-respect usually have a goal they would like to fulfil. They will set themselves boundaries based on morals and values and live by their principles.

They accept that they have strengths and weaknesses, but strive to do better. They respect other people’s opinions, diversity and beliefs.

A girl will strive, knowing the love from her parent(s) is unconditional; she understands they have her best interest at heart. But parents should be astute. Not because little girls are cuter than boys must they always look pretty and neat. Girls must not feel that their self-worth relies on their looks and how they dress. There is plenty of time for girls to be inundated with the picture-perfect images of women floating around media to which they will compare themselves in despair.

While they are young, girls should play with both genders and even have a rough and tumble with the boys if they choose. Boys should not be estranged from girls nor be seen as oddities. Encourage girls to be adventurous and playful. Don’t limit their experiences to only things perceived ‘girly’ or feminine.

Let them be themselves (creative, determined, thoughtful, brave, inquisitive, capable and smart). Tell girls you love and accept them the way they are. Introduce them to stories of heroic and strong women who stood up for their rights and changed or helped to shape the world. Strong female role models will help give them balance in a world that seems male-dominated. However, the contributions from women are many.

Moms should be the first to model self-acceptance and underline the fundamental things that matter in life. For instance: embrace your unique self and live. Mothers can knock a girl’s self-esteem if they complain about their self-image. (my thighs are too big, my neck is too long, etc.) It won’t be long before her daughter finds something she dislikes about her young image too, rather than embrace her body.

As well as mothers, girls need fathers in their lives — a man they respect with wholesome qualities. He will be her first idea about what to expect from men in the future and the first man who loves her (and vice versa), where possible father/ daughter relationships should be encouraged if they are healthy, respectful and beneficial. Knowing that her dad ‘has her back’ does wonders for a girl’s confidence.

As girls get older, they will recognise (handsome) faces that appeal to them and naturally fantasise about boys. It will be a while before they work out that people have a more profound value, or to put it another way, beauty is only skin deep. Parents can point out that ‘not every smiling face is a friend,’ in the interim. They can talk to girls about relationships and recognise people’s inner virtues. Does a person possess qualities to be admired? Are they honourable and faithful? Can they be relied upon and trusted implicitly? Girls need to seek positive features in men.

Girls raised without love, and attention from parents lack self-worth and assurance. Although they may not have witnessed physical abuse, they have low self-esteem and may seek love and attention from the first person who comes along or from someone who fulfils their innate longing. In these situations relationships can go wrong, resulting in physical abuse or other dysfunctions (drugs, alcohol, petty crime) and young, single motherhood.

Without stability, love or guidance, some girls emulate what their older sisters or friends do. Whether they have a baby or toy with several boyfriends for fun, they get by every day by any means possible. They are not “forceripe”; they have no sense of direction — no aspirations, goals or support. They practise the lifestyle they see because it is the only one they know. People are brought together initially through physical attraction or an emotional need. However, physically based relationships are seldom meaningful or long-lasting.

Parents will need to keep their girls focused on goals and aspirations, rather than falling for a handsome face or suavity, as time goes on. Girls dedicated to academic achievements are more likely to stay away from drugs, alcohol, sex and peer pressure. Teach girls that there is time to establish a meaningful relationship with a worthy suitor when they are older.

Sadly, the majority of young people are besotted with imagery nowadays. They spend remarkable amounts of time taking pictures of themselves for no reason at all. Therefore, explaining to girls how to be true to their inner selves (and beauty) to build self-esteem may be a more challenging task for parents when youngsters ogle themselves for a hobby.

But don’t give up, parents. Teach your girl compassion for her fellow man, dignity, patience, compromise, resilience and fairness. Teach her to be ruled by her conscience and not only her heart. She must allow her intuition to be her first line of defence and walk away from troubled situations. A girl with healthy self-esteem and self-respect feels good about herself, her family and her lifestyle. While accepting that not every day and all things are perfect, she perseveres in good faith and prevails.

If you are concerned about the welfare of a child, call the CPA hotline on 227 0979 or write to us at childcaregy@gmail.com

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