Taking Walks with your Daughter to Build Confidence & Creativity
I have always told my mom EVERYTHING. When I was a pre-teen, I told her about crushes and friendship drama daily, and today it still feels safe and rewarding to share my deepest insecurities with her. Based on other parent-daughter relationships I have observed, I think I am pretty darn lucky and unfortunately, quite unusual...
I’ve asked her how she was able to build such trusting relationships with all three of her daughters, and how she could have been so consistently supportive, understanding, and non-judgmental throughout the challenges of raising pre-teens and teens. I had to laugh when she said she, "keeps her mouth shut," even if she is dying to know more or is slightly uncomfortable — anything to help us feel safe to express as much or as little as we needed to.
Every girl needs a support system to nurture that confidence and creativity! Do this by trying to make a habit of taking walks one-on-one with your daughter. It will make a monumental impact on the amount of trust and connectedness in your relationship, and here's how:
Take a breather
Take a moment outside to get away from homework and stress by taking a walk together. The fresh air, exercise, and opportunity to talk about a sensitive topic without others listening will help create a safe environment for opening up.
Listen & validate
This is the time to listen and show empathy. Pre-teen girls are beginning to experience new surges of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. These hormone increases make for a rocky transition as pubescent girls try to develop independence and their sense of self. It is quite likely that your pre-teen will become suddenly closed or upset, so try and be sensitive to her subtle warning signs by limiting questions or advice while she is expressing herself. Instead, encourage her openness with validation and by saying things like, “Ugh. That must be SO tough,” or “And how did that make you feel?" Be understanding and judgment free!
Surprise your daughter with a mini-supportive token the day following your walk. Write a note on a Post-It and stick it on her bathroom mirror in the morning, leave an inspiring quote in her lunch, or text her an encouraging photo. An uplifting boost like this will let her know you are thinking of her and that you care about how she is feeling.