Why Setting A Good Example For Young Girls Is More Important Than Ever
Girl power has no age limit.
In today's 24/7 media environment, children are spending more time than ever with technology. But with the plethora of information on offer, they might not be getting the right messages - especially when it comes to big issues like feminism, body image and equal rights.
“Children are known to mimic adult behaviour so always be mindful and lead by example, especially when it comes to your own relationships with other women,” explains Katie Kokolas, a psychologist from online mental health platform, Lysn.
And you don’t have to be a parent to exercise a positive influence. From nieces to goddaughters to friend’s kids to the teen next door, we can all step-up our role-model credentials. Here’s how.
1. Avoid engaging in bitchy behaviour
Be wise with your words and don’t talk nasty about other women in front of children. Try to avoid gossiping or spiteful comments, as these behaviours are destructive and can only encourage similar behaviour. Show girls that it’s okay to be genuinely yourself and always practice what you preach.
2. Talk about not talking
Research shows that being excluded from a group can be as painful emotionally as being physically hurt. Talk about negative behaviour such as gossip, rumour spreading, whispered secrets and exclusion, and explain how these behaviours can negatively affect a person. Consider role playing a few scenarios so she understands how she would feel if she was talked about that way.
3. Be openly supportive and positive
Yes, even if you don’t necessarily agree with their viewpoints. Take the time to celebrate other women’s success and use their situations as inspiration for your own life and to show younger girls. Avoid and discourage displaying envious behaviour or showing feelings of jealousy. We are all unique in our abilities and strengths and negative comparative behaviour only takes away from that. Girls need to see there are lots of examples of success they can look up to.
4. Don’t let the media do the work
Identify positive values that are important in being a woman, such as honesty, integrity and confidence, and encourage this by praising girls when they act in ways that show these values. The media, gossip magazines and celebrities can easily influence the mind of a child at an early age, so in order to let them develop their own ideas, limit exposure to these types of things.
5. Encourage teaming up
No, it doesn’t necessarily have to be netball, but encouraging girls to be a part of a team such as sports or drama teach them to work together with other females to build confidence, develop relationships and solve problems.