Posts Tagged ‘ tween girls ’

Raising Resilient Girls

Monday, October 20th, 2014

I heard a great talk last week about boosting resilience in girls by Simone Marean, executive director of Girls Leadership Institute. Here’s how the organization describes its work: “We teach girls to identify healthy relationships, communicate effectively, and develop a resilient response to conflict, challenges, and mistakes.” Even if you hope your daughter will excel in STEM someday, she also needs emotional intelligence.

Girls often feel pressure to be perfect. Their fear of failure makes it harder for them to take risks. I’m sure my daughter isn’t the only one who has a tough time hearing criticism or apologizing when she’s made a mistake. Girls know that it’s ideal to feel confident and happy, so they’re often uncomfortable expressing negative emotions. And if they feel like they should have a BFF with whom they never fight, they don’t learn to manage conflict in their relationships.

Unfortunately, our best efforts to discuss these types of issues with our girls (“How did that make you feel?”) often don’t get very far. Instead of opening up to you, your daughter may just roll her eyes or say, “I’m fine, it’s nothing.”

Marean offered these fresh ideas to try:

Talk about your own no-so-happy feelings. Look for opportunities to tell your daughter about a situation that made you feel embarrassed, nervous, awkward, or insecure. Use those words. Her ears will perk up and she will be eager to hear how you handled it. Of course, it’s best to choose a minor anecdote; you could tell her that you were embarrassed when the wind blew your skirt up, but you don’t need to tell her that you’re worried about losing your job. She shouldn’t be put in the position of being your therapist; the point is just let her know that these types of feelings are normal. You’re her first role model.

Share your mistakes. Maybe you forgot the cable TV guy was scheduled to come today or you said something to your own sister that she found insulting. Girls often convince themselves they didn’t say something mean to a friend because it conflicts with the image they have of themselves as a nice person. Or girls exaggerate the significance of a mistake (“I can’t believe I kicked the ball into the other team’s goal—I’m never playing soccer again!”). Show your daughter that worthy people make mistakes and take responsibility for them. Talk about the fact that a situation isn’t usually one person’s fault—different people can each make a “contribution.” (Maybe your husband promised to remind you that about the cable guy!) Young kids like the idea of “double sorry,” in which each person apologizes for what she did wrong.

Help her solve her own problems. If your daughter is upset about a problem with a friend, instead of giving her advice, encourage her to brainstorm about what she could do. Offer to role-play the situation so your daughter can practice being assertive with her friend (rather than too aggressive or too passive) just like she practices sports. “Relationships should be the fourth R,” says Marean. “Social skills need to be learned.”

Girls Leadership Institute offers helpful “Real Parents, Real Daughters” workshops for girls in grades K-8, as well as day camps and overnight camps. Visit their website for more information or to join their mailing list.

What’s your parenting style? Take our quiz. 

Parenting Style: Positive Parenting
Parenting Style: Positive Parenting
Parenting Style: Positive Parenting

Photo via Shutterstock

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How TV is Messing With Your Tween

Friday, December 20th, 2013

Being a tween girl is hard. And according to a new study, the television shows tween girls and boys watch is making life just a little more difficult. The study published in the journal Sex Roles found that programs on common kid channels, such as Disney and Nickelodeon, frequently show girls (all of whom are good-looking) being concerned about their looks, working to look better, and receiving comments about their appearance from other characters . At the same time, boys in these shows had a larger variety of “looks” (some attractive and some not so attractive) and didn’t focus on their appearance.

If you think about your tween years, or your own tween child, you know that this is an awkward stage. Braces, glasses, growth spurts, and hand-me-downs plague a majority of middle schoolers and affect their self-esteem. When combined with the existing struggles of tweenhood, TV shows that tell girls to focus on their looks are bound to cause anxiety about every aspect of their appearance.

What worries me most about this study is that if girls are told to spend time thinking about what they look like, what are they not concentrating on. For example, if they spend their morning preoccupied about their outfit, are they missing out on time learning in class? Are they wasting time that could be used to daydream about their future career? And could low self-esteem keep them from speaking up in school or participating in sports?

Aside from turning off the television, there are things you can do to counteract the negative messages on their favorite channels:

-Set a good example by loving yourself.

-Encourage your  girls to participate in a variety of activities.

-Talk to her about all her positive qualities to increase her long-term confidence.

What do you do to promote a healthy self-esteem in your kids?

Back to School: Dealing With Meanness and Bullying
Back to School: Dealing With Meanness and Bullying
Back to School: Dealing With Meanness and Bullying

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