5 self-esteem boosting tips for parents of baby girls

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According to a recent study published in Science, by six years of age, kids think females are less likely to be brilliant. That’s a tough pill to swallow, especially for parents who have a baby girl on the way. Here are five simple steps to take to ensure your baby girl believes she is smart, strong, and capable—right from the start:

Introduce bright female role models

Building baby’s library? Make sure your children have access to stories about amazing women who have contributed to our world by using their intellect. Some to check out include Marie Curie (Nobel Prize winner), Maria Montessori (early childhood education reformer), Edith Stern (mathematical genius who holds 128 US Patents), and Ada Lovelace (wrote the world’s first computer program…in 1842).

Driven, smart, and aspirational fictional characters to introduce your little one to include Rosie Revere Engineer by Andrea Beaty, Violet the Pilot by Steve Breen, and The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashely Spires.

Moms, own your smarts

Be careful of the words you choose when you slip up and avoid saying things like, “I’m so stupid, I can’t believe I forgot that!” Better yet, step into the spotlight and take credit for your ideas and accomplishments. Let your kids know that you are a powerhouse and explain how you rely on your smarts to solve problems in your family’s real world. Start practicing this now, before baby is even verbal, so that it becomes commonplace when your little one starts repeating every word you say.

Share stories about smart women in your life

Sharing examples of intelligent women who have had a personal impact on you will go a long way. Your children care more about your experiences than they do about any news story or history book, so take a walk down memory lane and share details of the brilliant women you admire.

Emphasize the importance of hard work

The one other interesting finding from the study was that girls are more likely to choose a game made for “hard workers” than one made for “very, very smart kids.” At the end of the day, all kids need to know that the only way to move toward brilliance is to persevere and work hard. Sending this message to your children will serve them well.

Turn gender-stereotypes into teaching moments

If and when you do hear someone assume a female is not bright or make comments reflecting an attitude of male superiority, let your child know what you think. I find the best way to get the message across is to calmly explain the errors in reasoning and reinforce that both males and females are capable of great things, including being very, very smart!

— Stephanie O’Leary, Psy.D. is a Clinical Psychologist specializing in Neuropsychology, mom of two, and author of Parenting in the Real World. She provides parents with a no-nonsense approach to navigating the daily grind while preparing their child for the challenges they’ll face in the real world. www.stephanieoleary.com

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