As parents, we often focus on compliments for girls––things to promote their self-esteem and build confidence. But just as important to consider are the things we should never say to our daughters. After all, society has evolved—and we’re raising girls to be strong women. Read on for more details.

photo: Ekaterina Kartushina via Unsplash

1. DON’T SAY: Boys Will Be Boys.
This old-fashioned response to a girl expressing her dislike of a boy’s behavior is highly outdated and toxic. Girls should be taught from a young age that boys shouldn’t get away with unacceptable actions due to their gender. Instead, parents should empower both boys and girls to be accountable for the way they act and to respect themselves and others.

2. DON’T SAY: Stop being so bossy.
Instead of focusing on what you don’t want your daughter to act like (in this case, bossy), celebrate the fact that she feels confident enough to speak her mind, it feels natural to her to instruct others and she is comfortable in a leadership role. These traits are hard to come by for anyone, so molding the positive aspects of bossy behavior into viable characteristics and attributes your daughter can carry with her through life is a much better alternative than shutting her down.

photo: Edward Cisneros via Unsplash

3. DON’T SAY: You should go on a diet.
Want to know how to talk to your daughter about her weight? Don’t. Instead, teach her how her body works and what types of food and exercise it takes to make her body healthy, strong and well-nourished mentally, physically and spiritually. Don’t tell your daughter that YOU are on a diet or hate your body or discuss other women’s bodies either. Instead, demonstrate through your own actions and lifestyle choices how to prepare meals and which foods properly fuel the body the best. Highlight the things you love about your body and hers.

photo: Blaise Vonlanthen via Unsplash

4. DON’T SAY: That’s not for girls.
Gone are the days of certain sports, school subjects and roles being reserved for boys only. Girls should no longer be told in any direct or indirect way to simply smile and look pretty or not to make waves. Encourage your daughter to pursue her goals and dreams regardless of whether her aspirations are male-dominated. This will build her self-confidence and she’ll also become a role model to other girls who may share her ambition.

photo: Johnny McClung via Unsplash

5. DON’T SAY: Get to the point.
If your daughter is sharing details about her day or life with you, no matter how much she’s talking, or how major or minor the topic is––consider yourself blessed. The more you listen to what she has to say on both big and small levels, the more your daughter will view you as her confidante. If you show her you treasure her voice and you’re there for her, even if you’ve heard enough about the latest slime trend to last you a lifetime, she’ll come to you in times of need and open up to you when it’s really important too.

What will you never say to your daughter? Share in the comments.

––Beth Shea

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