How to Raise Girls to Be Leaders—5 Ways to Help Your Daughters Thrive
Thank you to the Girl Scouts for sponsoring this post!
This summer my eldest daughter was approached about participating in a scholarship pageant. It was not an easy decision for her, because public speaking is not her favorite thing to do. She decided she wanted to do it, though, because she knew it would be something that would only help her become an even better version of herself.
As I watched my daughter walk confidently onto the pageant stage for her interview and answer questions eloquently with a clear voice and a smile on her face, I couldn’t help but think of her very first public speaking experiences. Back then she could barely hold her tears back as she spoke so quietly nobody could hear her anyway.
It’s really cool to see your children develop leadership skills like public speaking. It’s amazing to watch them overcome their fears, take risks, and do hard things. The reason she was so poised at the pageant was simply because she had been given many opportunities for public speaking in her young life, and gradually overcame her terror of being in front of an audience.
I asked her about it, and she attributed a lot of it to Girl Scouts and selling cookies to the students in her dad’s university orchestra—her very first public speaking opportunity.
During her first year of Girl Scouts, I realized that a great way for her to sell more cookies would be to go stand up in front of an orchestra rehearsal. The first time she did this, she was nine years old and scared to death. I practically had to push her into the room where she slowly went up to the front and very quietly mumbled her prepared speech.
Luckily, it didn’t much matter if her speech was good or bad because everyone wants to buy Girl Scout Cookies. And the fact that so many people in the orchestra bought from her boosted her confidence just enough so that the next year it was easier, and it has just continued to get easier each time she speaks in front of an audience—whether it’s to sell Thin Mints or to participate in a scholarship pageant.
This conversation got me to thinking about just how grateful I have been for the Girl Scout program. I have three daughters—all Girl Scouts—and I was my youngest daughter’s troop leader for several years, as well. I love that the program is designed to help girls develop leadership skills and help them take the lead in their own lives and their communities starting from a very young age.
The Power of G.I.R.L (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader) is apparent in my own daughters, as well as the girls in the troops I have led and helped with. I have loved watching them develop confidence and the power to speak up and lead others over the years.
5 Ways Girl Scouts Helps Girls Thrive
1. Girl Scouts helps girls to develop a strong sense of self
I know that I have watched my own daughters develop more self-confidence as they have participated in the Girl Scout program, but I decided to do a quick poll of my Facebook friends about their experiences with Girl Scouts. Over and over I heard the same things:
“She learned how to be independent and I watched her confidence grow.”
“My daughter has grown more confident and has improved self-esteem which makes her much less scared to take charge and organize those around her.”
“Girl Scouts has also helped my daughter to increase her self esteem. She is less shy and able to speak up when needed. She has become more confident about herself.”
“It improved her confidence as an independent woman having been given a panel of successful women to look up to who were always encouraging and motivating.”
“Participating in Girl Scouts encouraged her to get involved in school stuff and gave her the confidence to join extracurriculars like band and ROTC.”
My daughter selling Girl Scout cookies at a local grocery store. Cookie sales is a huge confidence builder for the girls as they set selling goals and work hard to achieve them.
2. Girl Scouts teaches girls positive values
At the beginning of each meeting, the Girl Scouts repeat the Girl Scout Promise and Law. As leaders, we try to incorporate these principles into everything we do as a troop. These values then become a part of the girls and their lives.
They learn to be honest and fair, friendly and helpful, courteous and kind, to respect authority, to be responsible for what they say and do, and much more. These are the same values I try to instill in my children at home and I am thankful for the way Girl Scouts has helped to reinforce their importance.
All of the values that are repeated in the promise and law are essential in a leader. As the girls learn about and internalize these values, they are becoming better leaders—almost without realizing it. Not every girl who joins a Girl Scout troop is a natural leader, but nearly every girl who participates in the program comes out of it having learned leadership skills that will serve her for the rest of her life.
3. Girl Scouts helps girls to welcome challenges and learn from their setbacks
I have watched my oldest daughter go from someone who was literally afraid of everything to a person who truly welcomes challenges in her life. As I mentioned before, I know that her experiences with the Girl Scouts have been a huge part of that. Not only has she had to learn how to speak in front of larger groups, she has learned many skills through her badge work that continue to serve her well.
All of my girls have had to learn to plan their own Girl Scout trips and solve problems as they do so. It’s a challenge to work with your whole troop and come to an agreement and the girls learn the challenge of compromise and not always getting their own way.
4. Girl Scouts helps girls to form and maintain healthy relationships
One of the things my girls all love most about being a Girl Scout is the friendships they have made. My oldest daughter mentioned to me that her favorite part of the Girl Scout Law is the part about being a friend to every Girl Scout. She loves how friendship is valued and feels it is an important leadership quality.
Not only do they learn to form relationships with their peers, they also have many wonderful women leaders to look up to and have a relationship with. One of my friends on Facebook talked about her own Girl Scout troop leader from when she was a Girl Scout:
“My Girl Scout leader is one of the women I most admire. She taught us the value of volunteerism and to have high expectations and respect for ourselves. I loved the outdoor activities best; from canoeing rivers, cemetery cleanups, and camping on a beach under the stars at the mouth of the Huron River. Whenever someone asked “if” or “can we?” Mrs. Work’s reply was always ‘why not?!'”
5. Girl Scouts helps girls learn to identify and solve problems
Some of my favorite times as a Girl Scout leader have been watching the girls solve problems and put forth their own ideas. Whether it’s for an activity or a trip we are taking as a troop or a service project, it’s fun to see them begin to problem solve and become their own leaders as they go from little Daisies to confident Cadettes and full-fledged Scouts.
It’s fun to watch them decide how the troop cookie money will be used. It’s fun to hear their ideas for how we will serve our community. I really love watching these girls blossom as they are given these opportunities to lead their troops and later become better leaders in their classrooms, schools, and larger communities.
I am thankful for what the Girl Scouts has done and continues to do for my daughters.
Want to know more about the impact of Girl Scouts on girls and leadership? Click here for an awesome study: Girl Scout Impact Study
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