Are you the parent of a daughter? If so, lucky you. I'm proud to be part of that crowd--and I'm sure that like me, you want only the best for your daughter.

One of the most important things you can do? Teach her to be brave.

Caroline Paul,  author of The Gutsy Girl: Escapades for Your Life of Epic Adventure, was one of the first women firefighters in San Francisco two decades ago. She wrote not long ago about how in her experience, people expected women to be fearful.

"This fear conditioning begins early," she wrote in the New York Times. "Many studies have shown that physical activity ... is tied to girls' self-esteem. And yet girls are often warned away from doing anything that involves a hint of risk."

So, as a parent, how do you encourage your daughters to act fearlessly? Here are some of the specific, practical things Paul recommends--and to start it off, one you sort of have to do this weekend.

1. Find (and support) brave female role models.

We'll start here--with role models--because there's a great opportunity right now in America. The number-one movie as I write this the DC superhero flick Wonder Woman, with almost universally great reviews (93 percent fresh on Rotten Tomatoes). If you have a daughter, it's basically your patriotic duty to go see it with her.

Related: I remember vividly when my dad took me to see The Empire Strikes Back and Raiders of the Lost Ark, which are why my early idea of manhood was formed by Harrison Ford. Make similar memories for your daughter that celebrate strong, female heroes.

2. Model bravery, fear, and failure.

Whether you're a mom or a dad, your daughter looks to you for guidance. The more you can show her that courage means facing and overcoming your fears--not denying them to begin with--the more likely they are to demonstrate bravery themselves.

Related: Show her that you embrace failure like an entrepreneur--as proof that you had the courage to try something new, and learn from the experience.

3. Give her freedom (but not unlimited freedom).

Kids, and perhaps especially girls, need room to make their own decisions, take their own risks--and often, learn from their mistakes. Obviously you don't want to abdicate your responsibility as a parent, but remember that we learn as much in life from learning to solve problems, as we do from the solutions themselves.

Related: The mistakes we make as kids often have less serious long-term effects than what we mess up when we're older. It's better to let our daughters learn from smaller mistakes while they're still young.

4. Teach her to tackle small problems.

The easiest way to take on a big, seemingly insurmountable challenge is to break it down into a series of smaller challenges. Teach your daughter to break these goals down into a day-by-day series of tasks that she needs to overcome to reach her goal--and the goals themselves become less daunting.

Related: Make some of those challenges about serving others. Selflessness ultimately rewards the selfless.

5. Include the boys in your program for girls.

"Boys should read this book, too They'll like it because it's about adventure. And they need to see that girls are kick-ass," Paul writes.

Related: Take your sons along to see Wonder Woman, too. (And a hat tip to Katie Arnold at Outside, without whom I might never have found Paul's book!)

Published on: Jun 9, 2017
Like this column? Sign up to subscribe to email alerts and you'll never miss a post.
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.