Raising Confident Girls by Elizabeth Hartley-Brewer is a satisfyingly simple guidebook for parents and teachers that offers 100 tips on how to best instill self-belief and esteem in girls. These tips, in turn, are designed to train your child or student how to cope with challenges and manage uncertainties in order to be better prepared for the future.
In her introduction, the author talks of the need for a ‘new-femininity—one that will encourage integrity, respect for others and themselves, independence and autonomy while acknowledging their biological inclination to nurture.’ There is much to celebrate and agree with about this bold statement, although it should have been mentioned that culture has a significant part to play in girls’ tendency to nurture, as well as biology.
The book is nevertheless empowering and thought-provoking, both practical and direct. Each page contains a guideline - e.g., ‘Constantly reinforce her sense of self-worth’ or ‘Encourage and value a range of skills’ - followed by a brief explanation of why this helps to build confidence. This is pursued by respective instructions for parents and teachers on how to carry the advice out: ‘Parents: Try to broaden your daughter’s base of achievement: Let her sample a range of activities and skills from those that are available locally.’ There is no excuse not to read through every chapter of Raising Confident Girls; its clear language and concise structure make it easily readable. Although the information seems like common sense, it is amazing how many adults miss out on applying the recommended methods.
While providing short and instructive tasks on how to develop a girl’s inner strength and self-awareness, the strategies proposed are just as much about the parents’ and teachers’ behavior as about the children’s. As Hartley-Brewer insists, it is adults who are responsible for a girl’s confidence or lack thereof. Adults have the power to shape a child’s attitude and beliefs about herself, especially young children. She advises teachers to ‘Never give up on a student. She may give up on herself, but it is your professional and personal responsibility to continue to offer her hope and belief in herself.’ Every word and suggestion offered makes sense, but the book feels more targeted toward younger girls than teenagers—though is still without a doubt useful for both age ranges.
Raising Confident Girls is a must have-manual that will benefit any parent or teacher and can be complemented by Raising Confident Boys by the same educator and author. Hartley-Brewer’s realistic and no-nonsense advice will help to create an independent and emotionally strong girl—and dare I say we need more of those.