Growing up isn’t easy. Learning who you are and how to fit in can be confusing, sometimes a sad struggle and I often wonder how we adults can ease this development and make it the enjoyable time it should be.

Life is a long road but if  “a girl’s self-esteem peaks when she is about 9 before it nosedives”; the beginning can have a profound and lasting impact on the journey ahead.

Yes, we are not all happy every moment of every day and yes, sometimes our confidence can be fragile. However, how we teach and, more importantly, show girls how to deal with the internal and external pressures can make a difference on many levels.

Take for example, body image. Apart from the physical development with puberty, there are the hormones to contend with, the magazines and images of female perfection, peers and boys. Just one of these issues is a battle, collectively, ingredients for all-out war.

It’s ok if they want to play princess and dress up and it’s ok if they don’t. It’s not ok to dress the way fashion editors want you to dress and it is ok to dress the way they dress. More often than not, there’s a great disparity as designers mostly look rubbish in the clothes their models wear.

Show the joy; teach curiosity, question norms, talk, talk, talk. And get dads involved. Hanging out with a dad who gives unconditional love and attention (without the overindulgence of consumerism) is a precious gift.

When a girl knows her dad thinks she is beautiful, and tells her, repeatedly, it’s a feeling no-one else can spoil.

And if I may quote the delicious Dawn French, “he told me I was completely beautiful, said how amazing I looked and warned that I would get loads of attention (from boys) and that I ought to choose the best. I went on cloud nine to that party, and I’ve actually never left that party. It was armour.”

There are many books, quotes, affirmations and any number of smart people who have good advice. My simple offering is to love, hug and talk. Lots.