International Day of the Girl Child 2021: How to Raise Strong Children


During tough times, how do you keep an eye on the cost – raising healthy, resilient children who can grow into strong, caring adults who, like my mom says, can pay the rent?

I turned to experts and thoughtful people who speak often to CNN Science and Wellness, and found their words to apply to all of our children – and maybe adults, too.

“It’s easy for girls to make it clear that their appearance matters above all else. What matters is on the inside,” said Damour, author of “Under Pressure: Confronting the Epidemic of Stress and Anxiety in Girl” , by email.

“What matters is how smart, funny, kind, creative and decent the girls are,” Damour said. “Focusing too much on its container – as the world would like girls to do – steals time that could (and should!) Be spent cultivating its content.

What role do you want to play?

Do not give in to societal expectations and norms projected on girls and women, advised Dr Neha Chaudhary, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School.

These norms include gender pay gaps, not speaking first in meetings or being the primary caretakers of the household, we will continue to live in a world without change.

“I encourage girls around the world to think about the role they want to play in generational change and how they want to appear in the world differently from previous generations. Find yourself a strong female role model and don’t have afraid to go against the grain, ask too many questions or follow your dreams. “

Make your home a “courageous space”

“Self-confidence and assertiveness skills are linked,” said Katie Hurley, child and adolescent therapist and author of “No More Mean Girls” and “The Happy Kid Handbook”, by e-mail.

“When girls feel empowered to express themselves and share their feelings, thoughts and ideas with others, they build up their self-confidence. The problem is, they need a certain amount of self-confidence. them to take that first step.

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“What parents can do is make sure their home is experienced as a courageous space for their daughter. When girls know their parents are there to empathize with them and love them unconditionally, they find strength. to express themselves. This is where assertiveness skills are born and honed, in courageous spaces where they feel empowered to stand up and express themselves. “

Teach girls how strong they are

“Far too many girls I work with see their bodies in a critical way,” said psychologist John duffy, author of “Parenting the New Teen in the Age of Anxiety”, by e-mail. “They see flaws, and they see the purpose of their body as a means of attraction.”

Tell your daughter how strong she is, Duffy said, specifically using the word “strong.”

“The word itself is powerful and meaningful,” he said.

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“Teach them to see their body as a force as well. Encourage them to exercise, lift and run. Do it with her if that motivates her. Let them see the action they can. exercise on their body. ”

Introduce your loved ones

CNN medical analyst Dr. Leana Wen’s mother died 11 years ago.

“I think about her every day, especially since I myself am now a mother of two toddlers, a boy and a girl,” said Wen, an emergency doctor and author of a new book, “Lifelines: A Doctor’s Journey in the Fight for Public Health.”

“There are so many things I wish I could say to my mom, and I wish she could get to know my kids so much.

“On this International Day, I want to remind my children of all those people in their lives who are no longer here with us, but whose influence and legacy are part of them. Now, and in the years to come, I want to tell my kids everything about my mother and the lessons she taught me, and soon them too. “

Read together

Open your children’s minds to different ways of thinking and being in the world by reading to them, suggested the children’s author. Kate DiCamillo, whose notable books include “Because of Winn-Dixie” and “Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures”.

“I was particularly struck by these lines from an essay (Ursula K. Le Guin) titled ‘Instructions for Use’,” she wrote via email.

“‘What a child needs, what we all need, is to find other people who have imagined life along lines that are meaningful to us and that allow some freedom, and to listen to them. . Not to hear passively, to listen. Listening is an act of community which takes up space, time and silence. Reading is a means of listening. ‘”

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