With their bright smiles, strong sense of family bonding and urge/ ability to support their parents emotionally and even financially, daughters have time and again proved to be a blessing in the modern world.
But bringing up a girl child today is no easy task.
It's important to enter her domain of fairytales, to relate to her emotions, to provide her with a balanced upbringing.
It is also also important to set a good example by practising the values you preach.
Here are some tips on how to groom your little girl so that she becomes a confident young woman.
i. Smart, confident, independent
~ She is your princess, yes. But avoid spoiling her/ indulging her demands all the time, especially if they are far-fetched.
"Traits like stubbornness and high-headedness can be curbed or inculcated in a child's formative years. If parents teach their daughter how to adapt and be flexible, they are less likely to face problems in their career and relationships," says psychiatrist Mansi Sharma.
For instance, if your daughter asks you to do her homework just because she doesn't feel like doing it herself, don't even think of agreeing. You could, however, guide her as to how she could finish it properly.
If she wants to skip school for no reason, don't indulge her. Let her learn the importance of routine and discipline.
Do not let her bully you into agreeing to whatever she demands. Every toy she demands doesn't have to be bought. If she throws tantrums and announces she won't eat until it is bought, wait for her to come around. When she is hungry, she will come and eat. When she is done with her meal, talk about her bad behaviour, make her realise her mistake and let her apologise.
Giving her light punishment at times and encouraging her to make amends is essential.
~ Help her imbibe decision-making skills, a sense of right and wrong and a determination to achieve her dreams. Give her the essential skills and degrees to help her achieve them so she can be emotionally and financially independent.
~ Enable her to recognise and overcome barriers by being encouraging.
Whether it is in the kitchen, a science lab or a social gathering, she must be confident enough to face every situation.
~ Empower her to dream and achieve her dreams.
She will learn how to cope with stress, imbibe decision-making skills and become responsible and independent if you allocate small tasks for her to accomplish on her own right from childhood.
ii. Educate/ train her in the vocation of her choice
Provide her with the best possible education.
She may or may not show an inclination towards academics. If it is the latter, enable her to develop and nurture her talent in some allied vocation such as singing, the fine arts, dramatics, dance, pottery, fashion design, etc.
Help her make a wise career decision.
iii. Beauty is only skin-deep
Dwell on what she thinks, believes, feels, dreams and does, rather than just how she looks.
You have a profound influence on how she views herself, so value your daughter for who she is and make her confident about using her talents to the fullest.
iv. Pay attention to her diet
A growing girl need to eat often and she needs to eat healthy. Provide her with a balanced diet that caters to all her growing needs.
"Maintaining a balance of carbohydrates, proteins and fats in a child's diet is very important. Avoid giving her processed food like canned juices or tinned veggies or food that contains saturated fats," says Dr Bijoy S Apte, a paediatrician and expert in child health.
Control the intake of concentrated sugars that find their way into her body through chocolates, ice creams, candies, etc. These have no nutritional value and only lead to obesity.
Instead, place in her plate everything natural and healthy -- ranging from fruits to vegetable to pulses -- to ensure she stays healthy and disease free.
Nisha Bhakt Chowksy, a dietician with the Mumbai-based Talwalkars Gym, suggests you take her grocery shopping. "Involving your daughter in the whole process could make a world of a difference. Take her veggie shopping and encourage her to pick up what she likes. She will be more excited about eating what she has picked up, " she says.
Never force your daughter to eat anything. That will just make her more stubborn about not touching it.
Remember to include calcium rich products like milk, cheese, paneer, butter, green leafy vegetables, etc, to protect her from conditions like osteoporosis at a later stage.
v. Say no to fad diets
Advertisers spend billions to convince a girl she doesn't look 'right'; don't believe, or let her believe, what they say.
Explain to her that there are many beautiful, healthy body types. Help her to be healthy and feel good as she works with the body type with which she was born.
Make sure she doesn't gorge herself all day and eat unhealthy. At the same time, do not let her get hooked on to the dieting fad as it may increase the risk of eating disorders and other health problems.
vi. Encourage her to get a good friends' circle
Having good friends is important for your daughter.
Call her friends over on and off and get involved in their activities; this will also help you keep a check on the kind of company she keeps.
vii. Help her to be physically active
Nisha stresses on sports as the best elixir for your child's mental and physical health.
"Sports gives an extra edge to your children. It helps keep your children's mind and body active and fit. Sports also teaches them to set goals; it helps them learn perseverance and discipline," she says.
The current generation needs compulsory playtime to help them cope with the stress created by the pressure of studies.
"If time does not allow her to take up any specific sport seriously, you can at least encourage her to join a sports team in school," says Nisha.
viii. Is she turning into a couch potato or a cyber geek?
A sedentary lifestyle should be completely avoided.
Dr Apte says, "If your daughter is going to sit in front of the computer and chat or surf or play computer games for hours, then she is obviously not going to have any time to go out and play. This is bound to damage her health and make her physically inactive."
He also stresses on emotional bonding between parents and children.
"As parents, your guidance and care can go a long way in building your child's future. Take time out from your busy schedule and soaring career to see what your daughter is doing at school and in her free time. Take time out to chat with her and make her feel cared for. Most important, set an example of a good lifestyle that she can emulate," says Dr Apte.
ix. Don't be overprotective
This world does hold dangers for our daughters but the solution does not lie in being overly protective. Instead, doing so will tell your daughter you don't trust her and her abilities.
Make her aware of the dangers and the precautions she needs to take, but don't curb her freedom. Tell her to be alert all the while.
x. A mix of modern and traditional values
An excess of anything may not do her personality any good. Get her familiar with your traditions and culture; at the same time, do not make her conservative or narrow-minded.
Your daughter is like dough in your hand; you can play a major role in moulding her future and her personality.
Do a good job of it and celebrate her existence in your life!
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Photograph: Ankur Aras