Top three secrets to raising happy girls

Raising girls has never been an easy feat. Today more than ever young girls can be vulnerable in a world where there are more issues and pressures they need to consider and be aware of.

As parents, you want to be able to provide all the tools and knowledge you can to assist your daughter in making the best decisions for her happiness, safety and wellbeing. It is our duty to provide unconditional love and a safe space for our girls to discover who they are, make and learn from mistakes, and flourish as young women.

The Big Sister Experience facilitate school workshops and have worked with countless teen and pre-teen girls, and their families. These are their 3 tips for raising happy, resilient and compassionate girls.

1. Trust and share reasons for rules

For most of us, we can remember our teenage years. A period of uncertainty where we tried our best to fit in, whilst also learning who we were and what we wanted for ourselves. Very few people like rules – but even less people like rules that we don’t understand.

Don’t be afraid to set boundaries, but be clear and communicate the reason for setting them. Not only does this make your intentions and motivations unambiguous, but it also opens up an expectation of communication and talking things through.

Not all conversations will be pleasant, in fact, some might be downright awkward. But leading by example in this regard will teach your daughter valuable communication and listening skills, and will result in a higher likelihood of her following your expectations as she understands the reasons why these expectations have been set.

If boundaries or rules are disrespected and disregarded, have clear repercussions in place, and follow through. We see the results in children as young as preschool who are threatened with consequences if they don’t follow rules, yet are allowed to get away with their behaviour when repercussions are not implemented. This problem is magnified as children grow, so it is imperative to set the expectations early on.

2. Teach a gratitude mindset

There have been many studies done in recent years to show the positive health benefits of practicing gratitude. The key here is focusing on what you have instead of what you don’t.

Focusing your energy on the positives can be taught from an early age, but it’s never too late to refocus. Even adults who keep a gratitude diary of three things per day develop an overall more positive disposition after 21 days. If writing seems like a chore, why not have a dinner conversation about the ‘best bit’ of the day or the ‘top 3’ things that happened in the past 24 hours? Encourage gratitude for ‘moments’ and ‘people’ instead of ‘things,’ and you will usually find that even on the bad days there is often things to be thankful for.

3. Allow mistakes and respect her choices

It can often be easy, as an adult with years of experience, to see how certain situations can produce specific, often undesired, outcomes. Recent studies have shown that a teenager’s frontal lobe, the area that is responsible for making decisions and weighing and judging action and situations, is actually the last part of the brain to fully develop. This means that it’s not so much what teenagers do think about, but more about what they don’t think about.

It is vital that as well as guiding and encouraging open communication, you allow your girls to make their own mistakes and learn through their own life lessons. This can be difficult for parents to watch, but it’s so important for us all to experience the failures, hurts and tests in life.

Ensure you are having conversations with your girls about the lessons they can take from each situation. Remind them that both the good and bad times will pass, and assure them that it’s never too late to do better, to try again, or to make changes.

As parents it can be overwhelming to deal with the emotional rollercoaster ride of raising young girls. Know that you are not alone, and the problems and issues you are facing are the problems and issues facing countless parents in your position. Reach out and ask for help if needed, and share support to others as well.

We strongly believe that parents do what they believe is right and best for their child. So communicate the reasoning behind your expectations with your girls. Encourage recognising the positive and the learning in every situation. And practice judgement free, unconditional love for your child, the phases she is going through, and the mistakes she is making. These small suggestions can make massive changes in your girls’ lives if practiced regularly, increasing the likelihood of your girl growing into a confident, communicative and compassionate young woman.

The Big Sisters are a Melbourne based project founded by two sisters teaching life education programs to young girls and their families via school workshops and webinars. @bigsisterexperience

You can download their free eBook on raising happy girls here –