The following was produced in partnership with our friends at the Disney Princess ‘Dream Big, Princess’ campaign, whose empowered characters inspire girls to dream big and achieve big. For every girl who dreams big, there’s a Princess to show her it’s possible.
If your kid has ever faceplanted on the playground, you know how resilient they are. But as they grow up, the stuff they have to bounce back from gets more complex. This is particularly true for young girls who must compete harder to win from the athletics field to the classroom and, eventually, the board room, often while being bullied and harassed. That part sucks, but the good news is there are plenty of great role models out there to help inspire your daughters to never give up and face adversity with courage and kindness.
For example, there’s Cinderella, who overcame familial bullying thanks to her inner strength, some timely encouragement, and her community of friends. In the recent live-action film, Cinderella’s mother encourages her daughter to “Have courage and be kind,” which ultimately allows Cinderella to triumph over life’s challenges – and is a great lesson for any kid. And while you can’t turn your daughter’s doubters into pumpkins, you can help her become the kind of person who comes back stronger when faced with adversity.
Building A “Never Give Up” Attitude
Foster Courage. Taking on new challenges, whether riding a 2-wheeler or jumping off the high dive, results in a mixed bag of wins and losses, both of which are necessary teaching tools to help kids handle the next tough situation. If you want to explain that to your kid like a Rhodes Scholar Navy SEAL, you’d say, “To be something we never were, we have to do something we’ve never done.” If you want to sound like a Fairy Godmother, say “Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo!”
In Cinderella’s case, it took a lot of guts to go to the ball. Fortunately, the Fairy Godmother reminded Cinderella of her inner courage and off she went. She got her waltz on and experienced life outside her stepmother’s rule — those were wins. She also had to run home before the magic wore off and forgot to tell the Prince her name — those were losses. But the entire experience prepared her to stand up for herself in the end and show everyone who wears the glass slippers in the family. Without that encouragement to conquer an obstacle, there’d have been no happy resolution.
Encourage Them To Try Again. When the going got tough, Cinderella didn’t throw in the towel — she stayed positive and remained hopeful for a better life. When your kid stumbles, encourage them to stay strong and keep chasing their goals. Tell a story about something you weren’t (or still aren’t) good at, and how you’ve stayed the course. Remind them that failure is part of life and it’s okay – and normal – to not achieve the end result you’re looking for right away, but through resilience, perseverance, and hard work you can achieve anything you want to. Except possibly the ability to wave a magic wand and turn your kid’s participation trophies into the hard-won wisdom that comes from failure.
Let Them Solve Their Own Problems. You’ll always have their back but resist the urge to step in if they get a bad grade in school or pushed off a slide on the playground (unless it’s their teacher who cut the line). When kids use their own voice to overcome adversity it builds confidence and empathy. Sure, Cinderella had some magical help to start, but she ultimately overcame her bullying family and won her Prince’s heart by speaking out.
Bouncing back when life hands you pumpkins is different from doing so when actual people are making life tough. If your daughter doesn’t have a pair of charming, industrious mice backing her up, here’s how to help her combat the evil stepmother and stepsisters in her life.
Distinguish Bullies From Bullying. Sometimes kids are aggressive but they don’t intend harm. That’s mean, but it’s not bullying. If they repeatedly go after the same person, then they’re a bully. Cinderella paints a pretty obvious picture of the difference you can use to teach your kids. Then, teach them to recognize a bully’s “triggers” and alert an adult if they see a situation escalating.
Break The Bystander Cycle. When you’re young, it’s often easier to pretend bullying didn’t happen rather than speak up. Nobody likes a tattletale and all that. But while speaking out is uncomfortable, staying silent is tacit approval. Speaking up proves kindness can overcome adversity and underscores the importance of empathy, respecting people’s dignity, and communal support. It’s why Jaq, Gus, and the rest of the mice hustled their tiny butts off to make Cinderella a dress.
Demonstrate Kindness. Cinderella didn’t stoop to the level of her step family. Instead, she kept kindness in her heart, which earned her the favor of the animals and ultimately the Fairy Godmother, who rewarded that kindness by choosing to help Cinderella above all others. In the live-action film, Cinderella’s mother says, “When there is kindness, there is goodness. When there is goodness, there is magic.” You basically want to be Cinderella’s mother.
The world can be a tough place for a kid, but with a few lessons in resilience and bully-battling from Cinderella (and you, their fairy godfather), your kid will be self-sufficient enough to overcome any challenge. Besides, whatever adversity they face can’t be tougher than dancing all night in glass heels.
Learn more about Disney Princess ‘Dream Big, Princess’ and follow them on Facebook and Instagram for more inspiration to help girls dream big and achieve big. For every girl who dreams big, there’s a Princess to show her it’s possible.