How To Teach Your Daughter To Ask For What She Wants

September 2, 2019  |  
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Did you know that only 12 percent of billionaires are women? Furthermore, 73 percent of male billionaires made their own wealth, while only 27 percent of female billionaires can call themselves self-made. I don’t love those numbers. But, I have my suspicions as to why it happens. I don’t think we teach our daughters to ask for what they want enough. I think, perhaps, we’ve encouraged being polite and sympathetic over being assertive and self-promoting. Of course, a person can be both, but I fear we’ve erred too far on the side of making sure our daughters are pleasant for others, rather than advocates for themselves. I experience it—I see that the world has that bias. I’ve been called “bossy” or “pushy” for asking for what I want, while, when a man asked for the same thing, he was called assertive. Furthermore, women who are successful can immediately be called negligent mothers or spouses. The focus goes back to those other roles. It has to stop. Here are ways to teach your daughter to ask for what she wants and advocate for herself.



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Have her introduce herself to friends

From a young age, encourage her to introduce herself to friends. When you take her to a park or children’s center, have her walk up to the other children and say hello. It’s important to do this from a young age because it instills self-confidence, and removes fear around the unknown (something you just can’t have if you’re going to be a boss lady).

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Encourage her to speak at dinner

When you have family dinner, be very aware of the times your daughter tries to interject. She may be meek at first, feeling insecure around the adults. But pause and say, “Sorry—were you going to say something sweetie? Go ahead.”

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Always ask what she thinks

If she is quiet, ask your daughter what she thinks. Just asking her that often, about everything, instills in her the idea that what she thinks matters—that she brings something valuable to the conversation.

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If something sparks her interest, nurture that

When you notice something spark your daughter’s interest, nurture that. Is she fascinated by a science show focusing on robots? Maybe she’d like to read about that, or take a class on that. Get her used to the idea that if she’s drawn to something, she should follow that instinct.

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Change the conversation around failure

If you start to nurture a go-getter attitude in your daughter, she will face this other facet of success: failure. It’s all a part of it. Sometimes, she won’t succeed. Sometimes, she won’t win. But when this happens, talk about this not as a loss but as a lesson. Get her comfortable with failure, too, so it doesn’t devastate her so much that she quits.

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Speak up—yes, you

When you see something unjust in the world, say something. Be vocal about your values. Show her that it’s okay to put yourself out there, to say what you think, even when it makes you less-than-likeable in the moment. She’ll be proud of you.

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Encourage her to stand up for herself

If somebody wrongs your daughter, tell her to stand up for herself. Teach her to tell her friend why that friend hurt her. If her teacher incorrectly scores her test and gives her the wrong grade, tell her to confront the teacher.

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Stand up for yourself

You must stand up for yourself, too. Never let your daughter see people push you around. Show her that what’s most important is establishing your self-worth. It’s more important than making people comfortable.

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Shun others who interrupt her

If people interrupt you, or your daughter, say, “I wasn’t done” or “She wasn’t done—don’t interrupt.” This will be useful for her later, in the work place, when people (eh-em, men) try to speak over her.

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Discourage comparison

If you notice her starting to compare herself to other kids, put a stop to that immediately. Tell her that she doesn’t need to be concerned with what they’re doing—that she’ll do things at her own pace, and she brings her own unique skills to the task.

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Tell her why she can do it

Bat away negativity and self-doubt. When she lists the reasons she can’t do something, list the reasons she can. Tell her why her reasons she can’t aren’t true. Start to teach her to think that way for herself.

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Be an equal with your partner

When it comes to managing the house, dealing with finances, making parenting decisions, and so on, be an equal with your partner. Have some of those conversations in front of your daughter and show her that your partner isn’t your boss. You are equals.

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Remain active and involved

You’ll need to stay active if you’re going to inspire your daughter. Now is not the time to retire and join a bridge club, even if you have the time and money. Volunteer. Work. Mentor. Your daughter needs to see how staying involved in your community—in the world—keeps you energetic and lively.

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Introduce her to empowered women

Give her books to read about empowered women throughout history. Bring her around empowered women you know and respect. Meanwhile, keep her away from women who preach being a trophy wife or just finding a rich husband. She doesn’t need that noise.

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Let her have her own opinions

If her opinions differ from yours, don’t tell her she’s wrong. Don’t push your opinions onto her. Respect her for having her own opinions. Then, ask her to explain why she feels that way—it’s good for her to practice defending her opinions.

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