I have gleaned these ideas from many sources. Try some you haven't
considered before, keeping in mind that no parent can expect to be doing
all of them all the time. For excellent suggestions to introduce business
and entrepreneurial thinking into your daughter's everyday life, see No
More Frogs to Kiss...
Let your daughter get dirty. Children need to explore the world
around them and be physically active. Science, nature, sports, arts, and
crafts--all these important parts of growing up entail getting dirty.
Give her time to try to do a task herself rather than "rescue her"
by giving advice or doing it for her. Encourage her to be persistent in
working out her own solutions.
Encourage your daughter to state her opinions and thoughts, and
listen respectfully to what she says. If she has trouble speaking out in
class, practice with her at home and help her plan strategies for the
Notice how you compliment girls. Typically girls get compliments
on what they wear or how they look, while boys get compliments on what
they do. Try to give compliments on specific accomplishments, not general
qualities. "Your speech had a powerful opening," not "You are a good
Encourage her to participate in sports. Give her the support to
join a team sport. Show her you value physical fitness and strength in
girls and women.
Watch television together and discuss the portrayal of women, how
realistic it is, what messages it sends. Extend this to movies, videos,
magazines, and computer games.
Find ways to help your daughter develop math, science, and computer
skills. Provide games that develop spatial skills such as puzzles, model
kits, checkers and chess, etc. For older girls, look into after-school
classes or summer camps on math, science, and computers.
See that she learns some mechanical, building, and repairing
skills, and becomes familiar with tools. Give young girls blocks and
simple tools. Have older girls learn to repair bicycles and encourage
them to take apart old appliances, etc.
Emphasize the importance of developing talents and interests. Such
pastimes give girls pleasure and a self-image that doesn't rely on
appearances, popularity, or relationships. Girls need to be good at doing
things as well as at dealing with people.
Examine your expectations for girls and boys. Do you give boys
more leeway to be rowdy, physically active, outspoken? Do you expect
girls to be more domestic, caring, polite, thoughtful? Do you expect boys
to help with outdoor tasks and girls with indoor ones?
Introduce her to strong female role models. Expose her to a
variety of career possibilities and women who enjoy their work. Teach her
to assume she will have to make her own living someday, as most women
do. Participate in Take Our Daughters to Work Day in April!
Support your daughter in pursuing her interests and in taking
risks. Be ready to help, but encourage her to make her own decisions and
choices. Praise her for her intelligence, abilities, and initiative as
well as hard work and dedication. Most of all, believe in her.
Excerpted from Great Books for Girls by Kathleen Odean. . Excerpted by permission of Ballantine Books, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.