The other day, my 8-year-old daughter and I were looking through pictures when she came across one of herself from the beginning of the school year. It was far from a professional photo and her hair was a mess, but she said, “I look great in this picture!” It struck a chord with me, because I can’t recall a time recently when I looked at myself and said — or thought — “I look great!”

My daughter smiles when she looks in the mirror as she adds a sparkly necklace or bow in the mornings. When she looks in that mirror, she’s not judging herself. She also regularly comments on how good she is at hip-hop, math, cartwheels, and drawing. Although she’s not an expert in any of these things, she compliments herself freely and without self-doubt. The amazing thing is, she also freely compliments others. She tells me I look pretty and that my singing is beautiful, even when I sound like Kermit the Frog with a cold.

I want her to hold onto this confidence, and I wish I could have some of it too. When she commented on the picture, it made me wonder why so many of us lose this confidence. According to the authors of the book “The Confidence Code For Girls,” girls’ confidence levels fall by 30 percent between the ages of 8 and 14.

We are so hard on ourselves, as women, and we hold ourselves to standards none of us can achieve. When was the last time you looked at yourself in the mirror and thought you were beautiful? When was the last time you really believed in your abilities? In the world of social media, we tend to have a skewed perspective. Everyone’s life seems perfect, and everyone looks beautiful under the veil of an Instagram filter. If we are judging ourselves harshly, our daughters will do the same. We need to be kinder to ourselves, so they know how to be kind to themselves too.

What if we tried looking at ourselves like our children do? Weight would be lifted off our shoulders. The constant pressure we put on ourselves can be heavy. I’m not suggesting anyone send their headshots into Wilhelmina Models or try out for American Idol (unless that’s your lifelong dream). But we should give ourselves a break and focus on our strengths.

One way to help our daughters build confidence is to show them how to get out of their comfort zones sometimes. This means different things for different girls, such as trying a new sport, speaking up in class, or playing with a new friend. If she fails, help her work through it and rebound so she will be ready if she fails again. Exposure will normalize failure.

To help our daughters, we need to occasionally model risk and failure ourselves by getting out of our comfort zones. For me, it’s about writing and putting myself out there in words. Sometimes writing can be scary, and it can come with rejection, but I keep going with the hope that what I write will resonate with someone. For you, it could be running a race, starting a business, or taking a class. If we never take risks because we are afraid to fail, our daughters see and emulate that.

I don’t have all the answers for how we can help our daughters hold on to their confidence. What I do know is that it’s something we should be conscious of. There’s power in confidence, and we certainly don’t want our girls to lose that!

Ranessa Doucet
Ranessa is a Boston native who grew up in Charlestown and never gets tired of exploring the city. She now lives north of Boston with her husband, two kids, and two mischievous pugs. Ranessa earned her master’s degree in elementary education and licensure in early childhood education. She currently works as an Academic Interventionist and Freelance Writer. Ranessa loves writing about parenting tweens, exploring New England, health, and self-care. When not writing or reading, you can find her watching reality TV, eating chocolate, attending her kids’ sporting events, and dreaming about the beach.


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