The Girls’ Guide to Life

Before she hits the teenage years, make sure your daughter learns these 10 important lessons, says DR RICHARD C. WOOLFSON.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel
Before she hits the teenage years, make sure your daughter learns these 10 important lessons, says DR RICHARD C. WOOLFSON. 
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She should always have confidence in herself and her abilities Regularly remind your child that she has a wonderful nature, that she is clever and talented, that she is beautiful inside and that she is fun to be with.
If she feels good about herself, she’ll enjoy life more, achieve more and develop resilience as she copes with life’s little difficulties.
She should think independently, for herself 
Peer pressure starts to exert an influence on your child’s thoughts and behaviour at this age, because she wants to be accepted by her classmates.
But encourage her to have own opinions so that she doesn’t always feel like she must do what her friends do in order be pally with them.
She should be a leader when she can, not a follower You know that she’s got great ideas, and it is important that she shares them with her peers, whether through chatting with her pals in the playground or working together with classmates in a group project. 
Tell her to be a leader when she thinks she can do better than the others. 
She shouldn’t keep secrets from Mum and Dad As friendships become increasingly important, your tween may be tempted to share her feelings more with her peers and less with you.
Of course she is entitled to her privacy, but you should explain to her that she mustn’t keep secrets from you, as you are always there for her.
She should take pride in her appearance She probably looks after herself anyway, and takes a keen interest in her clothes, but there’s no harm in reminding her to brush her hair, to keep her clothes fresh and tidy, and to pay attention to her personal hygiene.
Taking an interest in how she looks develops her self-confidence, as long as she doesn’t become obsessed with her appearance. Tell her to be a leader when she thinks she can do better than the others.
She should try hard in school Interest in school work can weaken at this age, as your child discovers new and exciting leisure activities. Help her arrange her schedule so that she can work hard, do her homework and enjoy sports, music or art. She doesn’t need to sacrifice her school achievements in order to have fun.
She should tell you if she is ever bullied Ensure that she has zero tolerance for aggression of any sort, whether it’s verbal, emotional or physical. Tell her that bullying is never acceptable and that she must let you know if she ever experiences this. Reassure your child that you will always sort it out quickly and confidentially. 
She should choose her pals very carefully You know that her friends have a huge influence on her thoughts and actions, and that she is judged, to a large extent, by the type of friends she keeps.
She may not realise this, so point out, for example, that if she is friendly with a rude child, others will just assume she is rude as well.
She should always behave in a way that would make you proud Suggest to your tween that when she has the opportunity to do something she isn’t sure of, she should ask herself: “Will Mum and Dad be proud of me if I do this or will they disapprove?”
Using that yardstick to guide her behaviour should help her keep out of trouble.
You will always love her unconditionally There is nothing more important than teaching your kid that you love her for who she is, and that your love is permanent and unconditional, no matter how much or how little she achieves, no matter what she does in life. She can always rely on your unconditional love and acceptance. 
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