What You Need To Know About The Personal Development Of Your Teen Daughter
Sep 26, 2017
Personal development is a lifelong project. Most of us are still learning about ourselves, discovering new techniques to improve certain aspects of our lives and feeling more comfortable in our skin as we go.
It is certainly not something that can be taught, or mastered in a week. And most of us wouldn’t consider ourselves to have been particularly ‘personally developed’ in our teenage years.
Perhaps we thought we were at the time.
But that’s the subject of another post.
So, while unfortunately, we parents can’t help our daughters take a shortcut to self development, we can help her to create the space to hear her own opinions.
And that can go a long way in helping her to start out on the long road to self-discovery.
Her Inner Critic
We all have an inner voice, usually more than one. The majority of us have an inner critic, who can be quite toxic at times. The inner critic of the teenage girl tends to be on high volume at all times.
This is the voice that tells her how to look, what to wear, what to say, how to behave, whether to study and more.
The inner critic is really not interested in your daughter’s personal development. She is only worried about what other people think of her. And that list of other people can be very long and their demands...huge.
- Peers - The greatest influence on your teenage daughter will typically come from her peer group, which includes school friends, the popular crew, frenemies and even people she barely knows of the same age
- Parents - Believe it or not, she does care about what you think, and will often base her decisions on what she thinks you would want.
- Society - This undefeatable, faceless entity is all around us. Lurking on her social media feeds, on billboards and on the TV. The world at large will mould your daughter’s thoughts on who and what she should be.
Her Inner Guide
While the critic is noisily bossing your daughter around, take comfort in knowing that there is another voice in her head, which always has her best interests at heart. We will call this, her inner guide.
The only problem is, the inner guide doesn’t care about what is cool. It couldn’t care less about the latest trends. Instead, this voice focuses on discovering and fulfilling your daughter’s potential.
This voice is largely developed from things we and other adults in authority have taught our daughter over the years. It is always there, although far is more subtle than the critic.
The problem comes in quieting the inner critic for long enough for our daughters to hear this more positive influence.
Helping Her To Find Space
In order to hear our inner voices, we need to find quiet space for reflection. Easier said than done in today’s busy world. Plus, I suspect you may have just rolled your eyes reading that sentence.
How on earth can you force your daughter to make space for quiet reflection? What if she misses something on SnapChat?
I get it. Unplugging is hard. So you have to make it appealing.
I am not suggesting you buy her a meditation pillow and insist she listens to whale song for ten minutes a day. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be like that at all.
Quiet brain-time can come when she is taking part in an activity she enjoys, for example walking, reading, or spending time in a coffee shop with you.
Simply stepping out of the daily routine and slowing down can be enough. You can even help the inner guide to creep out by asking some carefully thought out questions.
Heed this warning though - your teenage daughter won’t thank you for taking her out to lunch so you can pry into her personal life. Your goal should be to prompt her to think for herself. She will see through any self-serving motives you may have.
Questions To Ask
Why not try some of the following:
- What are her preferences? - in all aspects of life
- What are her goals? - for this term, year, future
- Who or what influences her decisions?
- What skills could she develop to help her to achieve her goals?
- Who does she admire?
- Would a mentor be useful?
Based on thoughts that come up, we can show her potential pathways. But resist the urge to push your own opinions on her.
She doesn’t need to have a complete answer, your role as a parent is to empower her to think for herself and make her own considered choices.
As parents and carers, we want the best for our children. But that doesn’t mean we can push her to make decisions that we think are right for her. The actual goal should be to empower her to know herself so that she can walk her own path of personal development.
We can help by creating space for her to listen to her inner voice. And also to remind her that nobody has it all figured out. It is okay for her to change her mind. It is okay for her to fail.
Remind her that the goal is to be always learning and always moving towards her own happiness. That is something we can learn for ourselves too!