How to Encourage Girls to Go After Their Dreams

Ed. note: For International Day of the Girl Child on October 11, 2018, OWH is cross-posting this piece from the Girls on the Run Blog. The original post date was November 7, 2016. Read the original post.

Image of two girls smiling.We all want the girls in our lives to go after their dreams, but the media, our celebrity culture, and social media can send mixed messages that affect their confidence. Here are some tips to encourage your daughter, granddaughter, niece, younger sister, or any girl you know to have the confidence to work toward her goals. 

  • Be a listening ear. Ask what she would like to accomplish one day. Give her your undivided attention. 
  • Stay open-minded. Let her brainstorm and share her ideas, even if they seem unusual or out of reach to you.
  • Help her set attainable goals. While you never want to crush your girl's dreams, if a goal seems a bit too unrealistic right now, encourage her to set a related, short-term goal that's attainable in the next year. 
  • Take action. Offer to go for a run together after school, drive her to music lessons, or review her latest essay. Knowing you support her dreams can give her the confidence to keep pursuing them.  
  • Encourage her to visualize her goals. Whether she prefers to journal her ideas in a notebook or create a vision board with magazine cutouts, a visual representation of her dreams can motivate her to reach them. 
  • Reinforce the importance of positive life skills, such as hard work, persistence, a positive attitude, and responsibility. 
  • Be realistic about challenges. Remind her that many dreams will not come easily, and hard work will foster a sense of accomplishment that increases her self-worth, even when she doesn't meet a particular goal. 
  • Celebrate her efforts, not just her achievements. By focusing on how hard she worked rather than just her results, you will help her build confidence in her skills and her work ethic. 
  • Compliment her talents. Praise her excellent spelling, good listening skills, killer jump shot, or willingness to help those in need. 
  • Help her research her dream. Spend time with her at the library or online researching how a person lands a particular job, or take her to meet with someone who has already met her particular goal. 
  • Encourage her to set short-term goals to meet a long-term dream. Whether that means learning to cook a meal for her family if she wants to become a chef or studying to earn excellent grades if she wants to attend a certain college, encourage her to take action today to meet her long-term goals. 
  • Ask about the "why" behind her dreams. Having a purpose behind her goals can help her stay motivated on the path to her dreams. 

How do you help the girl in your life stay positive and motivated to follow her dreams?

The statements and opinions in this blog post are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office on Women's Health.