by Fran Hendrick

Professional clinical counselor, parenting columnist, and instructor Fran Hendrick has provided coaching and counseling for hundreds of women and girls for twenty-five years. Clients appreciate Fran’s calm, empathic style, her practical strategies and solid advice, and her playful spirit. In addition to her therapy practice at Wildflower House in Loveland, Fran provides consultation, through private video chat and by phone, for moms participating in her online course “Helping Confidence Bloom: The Step-by-Step Approach to Raising Confident Girls”.

“I don’t want my daughter to struggle with confidence and anxiety issues. I want to learn what I can do to help her become strong and confident – and really have fun with her life.”

This is the concern – and the heartfelt wish — that many of my clients share with me. 

Join Fran’s Raising Confident Girls Facebook Group – especially for moms.

What I find both fascinating and empowering is that your daughter’s trust and confidence are not built by big actions and grand gestures; they’re actually built in the small moments of everyday life. Moments like when she’s late for school – or puts down her iPad to help her little brother with his spelling; says she hates what you’re having for dinner – or does her first headstand. 

Believe it or not, these are the moments where what you say and do can make all the difference in building her confidence – or unintentionally eroding it. (And – by the way – what we generally think of as praise is likely to backfire completely!)

It’s easy to miss the opportunity in these moments, not because you don’t want to be there for her but because you aren’t fully aware of what she needs from you. It’s easy to get discouraged and even feel powerless to help your daughter become less anxious and more assertive; or to help her persist at a hard task instead of feeling stupid and quitting in a storm of frustration. What you need is a lens that allows you to see things you couldn’t see before – along with the insight, tools, and a clear framework to know what to do or say. 

And it’s so important! Confidence is not only a goal in its own right. Beyond that, a strong sense of self-confidence and self-worth provides lifelong protection against depression.

I’m not one to step up to a microphone without major provocation. But the statistics on depression and self-harm in girls and women today in this country demand it.

I’m not one to step up to a microphone without major provocation. But the statistics on depression and self-harm in girls and women today in this country demand it. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, a whopping 17.3% of girls ages 12-17 have experienced a major depressive episode1, along with 8.2% of adult women2.  It has even been estimated that girls’ self-esteem, their greatest protection against depression, peaks (yes, peaks) before they are ten years old!

What makes this all the more unacceptable is that it is largely preventable! We have the knowledge to raise girls to feel whole, adequate, and joyful so they experience the world confidently and in bright colors. The knowledge exists to protect our girls from depression, from lifelong battles against feeling not good enough, from desperation – in short, to prevent rivers of tears and needless pain.

They can joyfully become exactly who they’re meant to be.

But for parents to actually be able to implement that knowledge in the small moments that make up everyday life with children requires a clear approach, intentional action — and a strong dose of self-reflection, because it can be scary. With that investment, our girls can be spared the lifetime of depression and anxiety that so many women experience. They can joyfully become exactly who they’re meant to be.

They kick upwards, their arms reach for the sky, they seem to fairly prance, all with their own dance steps, their own vivid colors, their own lively style.

On my desk at Wildflower House, I have a colorful drawing, spontaneously crayoned by a spectacular six-year-old girl. In it, twelve children jubilantly dance two-by-two in all directions across the fluorescent green paper. They kick upwards, their arms reach for the sky, they seem to fairly prance, all with their own dance steps, their own vivid colors, their own lively style. 

That is how our girls should feel! I believe our daughters simply must be given that opportunity. Parents need a clear approach to evade those awful statistics and, in their place, to create something wonderful.

I invite you to be part of improving the odds for today’s little girls, especially the ones within your own reach.

“So let’s fix it together.”

Why? Because each little girl has the potential to bloom uniquely. Because it is a sacred responsibility to learn to nurture, to discover that. And because there should be, there must be no lost voices. Each individual human being is entitled to self-expression.  Without it, our sparks dim and become buried out of our reach, hopelessness gains ground, despair sets in.  Human beings should not be locked away inside themselves. Ever.

So let’s fix it together. 

You really can build your daughter’s confidence right there in the midst of simple everyday conversations. I’ve designed this new column to show you how.

I hope you’ll join me!

Located at 111 N. Wall Street in Downtown Loveland, Wildflower House, Fran’s cozy personal development studio for coaching, counseling, and classes provides a space for women and girls to confidently become exactly who they’re meant to be. 

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