Strange MagicCapable, strong and confident women are in the news with increasing frequency these days-from politicians and movie stars to women making strides in sports, business and the military. Parents are becoming more aware that helping their children—particularly girls—build skills that lead to empowerment is important for success in life. But many parents may be wondering just how to go about it.

Child and adolescent psychotherapist Katie Hurley, a parenting expert and author of the upcoming book “The Happy Kid Handbook: How to Raise Joyful Children in a Stressful World,” notes that empowerment begins at home with day-to-day activities.

Here are some easy tips Hurley recommends as effective in helping your daughter to be her best self.

Communicate, communicate, communicate. One of the most important things parents can do is open the lines of communication. Listen before you respond. Allow your child to vent and articulate her emotions, while letting her know you’ll just listen, without judgment. Showing empathy is important (“I hear you” and “How can I help?”). Give lots of love, acceptance and support. This will help her know that what she thinks and how she feels is important and that she is a priority for you.

Help identify good models. Watch what she’s watching and discuss it together. Kids today are often plugged into their own world and tuned out to their parents. But that doesn’t mean you have to sit back and remain in the dark. Watch her—or your—favorite shows or movies together. The subtle lessons in a film can be the impetus for discussing issues and providing role models. One such film is “Strange Magic,” Touchstone’s newest animated tale from George Lucas, now on DVD. A key character is Marianne, a female whose journey to empowerment includes learning to see people not for how they look, but for who they really are. George Lucas notes, “The point of the film is that everyone deserves to be loved and true love goes much deeper than just infatuation or looks…It’s about finding true beauty in someone’s soul regardless of how they look.”

Encourage girls to aim high. Remind them that hard work and dedication are part of what it takes to reach goals and dreams. The key to building girls up is to help identify and then support their strengths so you can encourage them to reach their goals.

Resist jumping in to “fix” things. Rather than solving your daughter’s problems, try stepping back so she can work through conflicts and find solutions on her own. When you empower your daughter to problem-solve, you show her you have confidence in her ability to handle her life. This allows her to enlist your participation in a discussion and show your support through the process.

Success is a team sport. Healthy competition is good. When young girls learn to stick together and lift each other up, they internalize the valuable lesson of teamwork. Whether your daughter is athletically, artistically and/or academically inclined, help her find ways to join with others and learn how to be a team player. Let her know it’s OK to compete by using her strengths to the best of her ability.

Build empathy by volunteering together. Helping others is a great way to spend quality time together and learn to focus on other’s needs, which is a great leadership skill. Search for monthly volunteer opportunities and choose one that appeals to both of you. Spend some time doing good to feel good together.

Learn More

For more tips from Katie Hurley, visit http://practicalkatie.com.

• Disney’s “Strange Magic,” http://strangemagicmovie.com, on DVD and Digital HD.

• Pre-order Hurley’s “The Happy Kid Handbook” on Amazon.

*Article and image courtesy of NAPS.*