With Her Own Two Hands: Building My Daughter’s Confidence With Play

Originally Published: 
Johner Images / Getty Images

When I was pregnant, someone asked me what I hoped my baby got from me, and I said, “my confidence.” Which sounded great in theory, but I meant the confidence I had as a woman in her early thirties, having been kicked around the block of life a bit. I knew she wouldn’t be gifted that confidence at birth, and I wanted to do everything I could to help her build her confidence.

So I dove into some of the science behind raising self-assured kids, and found two core truths from every parenting expert out there: let her do it herself and let her PLAY. Play is the way to raise a kick ass girl (prescription applies to all genders, of course).

So Why Does Play Matter?

Many scientists have studied and written about the ways play matters, but it all boils down to this: through play, kids explore, try things, fail, and then create — learning to trust themselves more and more in the process. This means letting kids try these things on their own instead of hovering over them while they play.

Emboldened with this knowledge, I started doing some research about the best toys to help build her confidence one she was past the age of plushies and board books. One toy kept coming up again and again in my research, and I wasn’t too surprised: LEGO.

LEGO toys tick all the developmental boxes including fine motor skills, thinking in three dimensions, and solving problems — with the added bonus of encouraging her to love STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). Plus they’re super fun, something too many “educational” toys I found just weren’t. Since my daughter was four, LEGO Juniors were perfect and we stocked up.

LEGO Juniors Were The Ideal Way To Challenge My Daughter

We chose four sets of LEGO Juniors (to start!). When we tackled the first set, she saw all those pieces and for a moment looked overwhelmed. But she took a deep breath and became fiercely determined. I was like, YES IT IS WORKING ALREADY. This seemed like a case where I could help, so I sat my fix-it-mama butt down and started “helping.” But guess what? She totally didn’t need me. It took her a moment to grasp the instructions, but because they are so clear and use images she was able to grasp it pretty quickly, and then she just went ahead and built that supermarket without me.

My Kid’s EQ Is Higher Than Yours

These days you’ve probably heard about “Emotional Intelligence” (EQ) and how critical it is to success. As a kid I was eager to sit back and let my mom help, and you know what? This was obvious to my first boss, and I had a rough learning curve when it came to holding a job. Not my kid, though. When I saw how easily she faced her trepidation about the small pieces of her LEGO Juniors and leaped right into to action anyway shows she not only trusts herself, but also relishes a challenge. She’s going to be a hell of an asset to her first boss (although I’d say there’s a good 50% chance she’ll be an entrepreneur, so she’ll also be her own best asset).

I knew toys and play were important, but I didn’t understand how deeply it impacts every aspect of child development. From those fine motor skills to EQ, playing with LEGO not only builds imagination — it also builds core life skills. My kid is brave and fierce and ready to take on any challenge the world throws at her. So let ‘em your play, and step back a bit, you’re raising a girl boss!

Sponsored advertising content by LEGO Juniors, which provides kids 4-7 with an age-appropriate building experience that builds confidence to conquer the world, one brick at a time.

This article was originally published on