10 Confidence-Building Skills We Should Teach Our Daughters Before Age 10

The following is an adapted excerpt from Jane Wurwand’s new book “The skin in the game: everything you need is already in you”:

My practical English mother was my greatest mentor. She empowered me and my three sisters by her example. Very young, she told us that it was important that we learn to “do” something. I didn’t know then the impact his words would have on my life.

My sisters and I were born and raised in the UK. When I was 2 years old, my family’s life changed dramatically when my father passed away suddenly, leaving my 38-year-old mother to take care of herself and her four young daughters.

Fortunately, my mom was a nurse by training and she was able to use these wearable skills to reinvent her life and provide for us. My mother taught herself to drive a car, so she wouldn’t have to limit her workplaces based on the bus route. She was so pragmatic, but very positive.

Founder and author of Dermalogica, Jane Wurwand.Courtesy of Jane Wurwand.

Her accompanying tip when one of us girls was feeling a little sorry for herself was, “Stop whining and eat your sausage” – which means “don’t complain, just take care of it”. Her incredible strength and sense of pragmatism were the qualities I admired the most in her.

His advice on learning to “do” something gave me so much confidence, even from a young age. Below is what she taught me and what I think all girls should know how to do before the age of 10 in order to feel their best, confident and empowered. Obviously, this takes time and practice with a parent or guardian. But the payoff is worth it.

1. Fry / boil / poach an egg. Learn how to do all three.

2. Wrap a gift and write a nice thank you card.

3. Wash and dry dishes by hand.

4. Do a load of laundry (and carefully fold a very large fitted sheet, I’m still working on it).

5. Hem an item of clothing.

6. Sew on a button.

7. Unblock a sink and toilet.

8. Set a table for dinner.

9. Fuel pump (no reason to wait until you learn to drive).

10. Go to a bank and open both a checking account and a savings account.

And if you’re struggling with your own self-confidence, especially when balancing a career, relationship, kids, and more, take another page from my mom’s playbook: “Life isn’t a question.” balance; it’s about resilience.

So think about:

1. Slice it

If we want to eat a big melon, we have to slice it. Cut it into bite-sized pieces that can be swallowed more easily. We will also appreciate it a lot more in smaller pieces without the skin.

Many things can happen to us at the same time like a crushing avalanche. Wait. Pause. We can only manage our capacity. If we are already full, there is no point in trying to add more. Breathe and get ready for the next room.

2. Put doubt in the back seat

We all doubt ourselves sometimes. Some of us doubt most of the time. What is that ?

This is usually something that has been told to us over and over and is deeply ingrained in our brain. And this is usually completely wrong. We believe it because it has been told to us so many times by someone who has probably told them and they are just passing on the toxic waste. And now we are repeating it to ourselves.

When others doubt us, we can start to doubt ourselves. This self-doubt takes root in our psyche. These other people start to write the script that you store in your head and determine how you see yourself. Don’t let that happen. Remember whoever said this doesn’t even want us to try what we’re looking for, because if we had, we would have exceeded their own efforts. They want us to stay small to make them feel big. And these toxic recordings continue to be stored in our brains. Whenever we are in a situation that triggers them, we just hit the play button.

Go through all those mental recordings in your luggage and erase, replace or put them away and never listen to them again. They don’t serve us, they serve the one who told us so. Next.

3. Replace “scared” by “excited”

Failure is the main fear of the Book of Lists. Number one. Death is number three, so clearly we’d rather die than fail. When I do a big presentation in front of a few thousand people, or even a small one in front of half a dozen, I think to myself, “Jane, you’re not afraid; you are excited. And sometimes it actually works. Adrenaline is released in our body both when we are very excited and very scared. The sensation is chemically identical.

I focus on my breathing coming in and going out and I tell myself, breathe in strength and excitement and breathe out stress and fear. I repeat it over and over in my head until I step forward to speak. It doesn’t always work, but at least I’m safe and not suffocating. After all, I am still breathing.

4. Choose your answer

Let go of the anger and attitude when something happens that you don’t like. It distracts you from your main focus.

You can’t control what happens, but you can choose your response very well. I wink at you to remind you.

5. Find your advantage

Make yourself comfortable in the part of your brain where you feel most at risk. Where you feel most vulnerable and have the most to lose. Sit deep in your discomfort and let the force overwhelm it. Stand on the brink of the abyss. From the edge you can see and feel everything. Do not be afraid. To have courage. And don’t walk in a vacuum.

6. Uproot the cynics

We all need problem solvers around us, not just problem seekers. Identify those who are starting from a point of no, seeing the problems and never the solution, and call them. Take them out. They will infect others quickly. By including you. Find the ones that start with yes and find the solutions.

7. Find your biggest why

Many measure their success in purely personal terms. This is a serious flaw: running after power and prestige without committing to a principle. To find our purpose, we must want to make our mark by making a difference. No matter the risk. What does it do for others, not just us? Our success must count and benefit someone else. Otherwise, it will escape us.

Why are you fighting? More importantly, who are you fighting for and why?

Jane Wurwand is the Founder and Chief Visionary of Dermalogica. An innovative business leader, her advocacy for the economic empowerment of women has earned her a platform at the United Nations, the White House and around the world as a thought leader and sought-after speaker. In 2018, Wurwand launched FOUND, a non-profit initiative providing funding, mentorship, unique incubator programs, and educational resources for entrepreneurs who have been underserved or neglected by traditional systems.

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