Raising feminist kids is a process that takes years and extends to every part of their lives, but one excellent place to start is teaching girls to speak positively about themselves. The video "Dads Write Powerful Affirmations for Their Daughters" from The Scene shows several sweet and adorable ways to do this. By hearing these words from their dads and repeating them back, the girls in the video learn not only that there's a man who loves and appreciates them, but also that they can love and appreciate themselves.
Giving yourself a pep talk in front of the mirror may feel silly, but research shows it really can improve your self-esteem. One University of Lethbridge study found that first graders who were taught positive affirmations were able to become more positive thinkers by the end of the school year. Research by the University of Southern Illinois's Laura Berk has found that children pick up self-talk from adults, and the more they talk to themselves as kids, the more they will when they're grown up. Psychologist David Sarwer told NPR he has eating disorder patients speak to themselves in front of a mirror to develop better body image.
The affirmations given to daughters by dads in the video range from reminders that their families love them to declarations of their strength to validation of their heritage.
Unfortunately in our culture, these aren't messages girls are always given, and the disempowering messages they get instead through the media and other people in their lives can have lasting effects. 80 percent of girls have been on a diet by age 10, according to Common Sense Media.
And according to a National Bureau of Economic Research study, girls with primary school teachers who believe boys are better at math and science are less likely to enroll in advanced math classes in high school. The good news, though, is that teachers who didn't buy into stereotypes encouraged girls to explore their interests.
In addition to the sexism girls can pick up, many kids internalize racism at a very young age. One study in Child Development found that children ages four and five show a preference for white people over black people. And in a 2006 Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy study, a quarter of children ages 5 to 10 actually thought it was illegal for black people to be president. That's why affirmations like these are so important.
Check out the video above for inspiring messages to give your daughters — or, heck, yourself, because we're never to old.
Images: The Scene/YouTube(4)