At least, don’t just tell them that.
Tell them they are capable, rational, and able minded. Tell them they can set their minds to anything they desire, and they can follow through on their dreams. Tell them that what they want to do is not limited by sex, gender, age, or any other socially constructed idea. Tell them they can have kids and get married if they want to, and if they don’t want to, they don’t have to do either. Tell them they can travel the world. Tell them that the world is a dangerous place, but that you have faith in them to survive it.
Many times, when we see little girls, our first reaction is to feed the need to be beautiful, ingrained in children at a young age. There is often no credit given to their strengths, to their minds. Often, little girls do not think of themselves as anything but emotionally driven and appearance conscious. “You look so pretty!” or “wow, you have such a pretty dress!” are common to say – but don’t stop there. Reward them for their thoughts. Praise their imagination. Tell them they are more than just a body, they are somebody. If we stopped focusing on the appearances of children, these little girls will grow up to be women who won’t buy into the idea that beauty is everything.
Beauty is internal. Tell little girls to be beautiful on the inside, because being a good person is more important than being well-dressed, with clear skin, with exposed hip bones and clavicles. Teach little girls that beauty is not simply external. If we do this, less little girls will grow up hating themselves as women.
The next time you see a little girl or your own little girl, take it a step further. Tell them how beautiful they are when their eyes light up. Tell them they are strong, intelligent, and brave.
Do not limit what their eyes can see.