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7 Skills to Teach Your Daughter By Age 13

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“A pre-teen girl is at a unique moment in her life. The spark that is her potential grows more intense, yet she’ll have to fight against gender norms that threaten to diminish it,” writes Rebecca Ruiz in an insightful article on Mashable. “There are countless ways she’ll feel pressured to hide or change her authentic self.” Rachel Simmons, an author and expert on girls’ development, agrees: “Girls are at their fiercest and most authentic prior to puberty.” But, she asserts that parents can help girls keep those feelings of self-confidence strong during the teen years and recommends “seven skills to consider teaching your daughter by the time she turns 13″ that will help your Mighty Girl feel prepared for the challenges ahead.

While many people think communication and relationships come naturally to girls, Simmons says those are still important areas where girls benefit from guidance. She explains that parents “have to set the tone early on for what’s OK in relationships and not” — and reminds them that girls who “don’t have the tools to deal with their feelings” are more likely to engage in bullying behavior. So girls need to learn to “flex the muscle of expressing their strongest feelings” in all their relationships. And, “when your girls express authentic emotions — even if they’re difficult,” she tells parents “you [should] take them seriously.” She also advises that parents consider friendships as “an opportunity to show girls what healthy relationships look like and how they can relate to others and themselves,” which provides tools for the future on everything from romantic life to negotiating for a raise at work.

Issues surrounding body image and sexuality can be particularly difficult for parents to navigate. Simmons encourages parents to help their daughters find a sport they love, so girls recognize their bodies as being capable of strength rather than being defined only by appearance. She adds, “When girls feel uncomfortable with their bodies they can also disconnect from how they are really feeling, and worry more about how someone else is feeling, or what they want, instead.”

Simmons also stresses the need to teach girls to be compassionate with themselves. Girls, she says, are sent a lot of messages that it’s important to please others, which means often they feel like their failures or mistakes are letting other people down. Parents need to teach girls how to fail well — recognizing the disappointment and learning for the next time — and make sure that they know that everyone goes through this experience. “What we want is for girls to have is the capacity to move through a setback without beating themselves up,” she says. Then, girls can enter their teens — and beyond — ready to take on the world.

You can read all of Rebecca Ruiz’ tips on Mashable at

Rachel Simmons is the author of two highly recommended books for parents of girls: “The Curse of the Good Girl: Raising Authentic Girls with Courage and Confidence” ( and “Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls” (

As girls grow increasingly independent in the pre-teen years, close bonds with parents are often tested — for mothers who would like to learn new ways to strengthen the mother-daughter bond during this period of change, we highlight several helpful resources in our blog post, “A Mighty Bond: Books To Deepen Mother-Daughter Relationships,” at

One of our favorite resources to help mothers and daughters stay close during these challenging transition years is the popular shared journal for ages 8 and up, “Just Between Us: A No-Stress, No-Rules Journal for Girls and Their Moms” at

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