“We have to take care of each other on this journey to make the world better for all our girls.”
In his ground breaking new book, 10 Things Girls Need Most to grow up strong and free, Steve Biddulph, famous psychologist and parenting guru, tackles the worrying rise in depression and anxiety amongst our teenage girls.
He campaigns for the re-appearance of spending special time with older, wiser, kinder people, as well as girls spending time relaxed with nature. He has put together a kit bag of interactive tools and insightful skills to help us liberate our girls from modern pressures of social media and excessive screen time and claim back their girlhood.
Here are highlights from his 10 Things Girls Need Most to Grow up Strong and Free below.
10 THINGS GIRLS NEED MOST TO GROW STRONG AND FREE
ONE – SLOW DOWN and LOVE
For children to feel truly secure, you need to feel that way yourself. Two main things increase the amount of love you can give your child.
- Slow down your lives, so love has time to grow.
- Get into the ‘river of love’ by being with people who are kind to you. Then you will be filled up and have more to give.
TWO – ENCOURAGE HER TO BE WILD AND FREE
A big part of raising a happy girl is making sure she has a childhood, and isn’t too cramped or curtailed by growing up too fast. This means two big things:
- From the age of two, encourage her to be a wild explorer, in the outdoors, in her mind, in creativity. Set her spirit free. Don’t fence her in with ideas of being neat, girly, cute or compliant, dress her for action, live free and wild.
- Keep your house free of the insane media pressures of how you look and make sure you are not hung up on it. Don’t have TV on except for the shows you specifically want to watch. Don’t go clothes shopping or do looks-based activity with her until she is well into her teens. And maybe not even then.
THREE – DEVELOP FRIENDSHIP SKILLS
Friendship is complicated and primary schools is the peak time of learning how to make it work.
- The skills of friendship include valuing friends, sharing, caring about others, managing anger, apologising, empathy and learning when and when not to trust others.
- We need to be coaches for our girls when they bring home ‘friendship angst’. This mainly means just listening and sometimes we can make suggestions and help them understand which of the seven skills of friendships apply.
- Teach your girl to be wary of yoyo friends, those who are suddenly mean then nice then mean again. We all know some of these as adults and these are toxic friendships – definitely ones to stay away from.
FOUR – GIVE HER THE LOVE AND RESPECT OF A DAD
Dads make a huge difference to girls. Dad’s need to be involved and present. Look out for Morello Life next month when we will exploring 10 Strategies for Being a Great Dad to coincide with Father’s Day.
FIVE – FIND THE SPARK
Every child has inside them an interest, ability or a passion that is waiting to be discovered and can be focus for them.
- Help your child find the spark inside them – the thing that they just love to do and help them pursue it.
- A kid with a strong interests usually does better in almost every aspect of their life.
- Beware of activities that are too competition or based on being ‘perfect’ – the true spark should be energising and fun.
SIX – HAVE SOME WISE WOMEN ON HAND
Aunties are an ancient and essential part of helping girls grow up.They are especially important in the teenage years as a separate voice to parents and peer groups.
- Find some wise women to become their ‘Aunties’ whether they are blood relatives or not.
- Aunties should confront them, comfort them, praise them and challenge them and ask the big questions.
SEVEN – TEACH HER TO HAVE A HAPPY SEXUALITY
- Talk to them frankly and help them think clearly, make choices and be in charge of themselves and their bodies.
- Girls need to know that they don’t have to settle for less than great.
- Every family has a respect quotient. Raise it as high as possible.
EIGHT – GIVE HER BACKBONE (AND HEART)
Teach her that strength is in ATTITUDE. The aim is to create a child who has a force of personality and uses thinking to work out what is best.
- Set clear boundaries on behaviour in a clear reasoned way.
- Get them to help with chores which is good for all those character building traits – persistence and co-operation.
- Be a good role model – be reliable, be honest, be strong.
NINE – EMBRACE FEMINISM AND IT’S COLLECTIVE STRENGTH
- Encourage her to fight for the same rights, safeties and chances in your life as boys.
- Help her understand that some of her problems will come from outside forces and pressures and other inequalities in the world around her. This will help her feel better about herself and see the world as big picture.
TEN – OPEN HER HEART TO SPIRITUALITY
- Whatever it means to you, teach her that spirituality is about liberation, being free and open to ever-greater learning.
- Teach her that she is part of a larger whole, a community of all beings and that it is important to be at harmony with the world.
The job of parents is to be less stressed than their children
If you grow slow, you grow strong
DON’T LET HER SETTLE FOR ANYTHING LESS THAN WONDERFUL
Get with the Aunties ‘cos Aunties talk tough