When you hold a baby girl, the possibility that she’ll grow up and be a GIRL who will one day feel lonely or rejected never crosses your mind. She’s a sweet baby! She’s never going to be left out of anything because how could someone not love this face?!
Sigh. It’s going to happen. But when’s the time to start thinking about how you’ll respond…when it does?
When she’s already withdrawing from social situations and never wants to step up in a group? When she doubts her abilities to speak in front of people or she’s too shy to look someone in the eye? When she worries that she’s…just not enough?
It’s sounds a little scary, but unfortunately…it’s reality. According to Girl Scout research conducted in 2014, it’s time for us to face the facts:
- Leadership is not a top goal for girls, as only 39 percent say they want to be a leader.
- Girls who shy away from leadership often do so due to relational issues, such as fear of not being liked, fear of being seen as bossy by others, and fear of making a decision that might cost them a friendship.
- Girls value a social and collaborative approach to leadership, as opposed to the traditional top-down, command-and-control style.
- While peers can have a positive impact on girls’ leadership experiences, they also can have a negative one. Nearly 40% of all girls report having been discouraged or put down, usually by peers and classmates, when they were trying to lead.
You know you should avoid negative body talk around her, and probably mix in some options beyond princess lore from the beginning…but how is actual confidence created?
Here’s the good news!:
- Girls say that they are most inspired to be a leader by their mothers (81 percent), teachers (65 percent), fathers (62 percent), and friends (55 percent).
- Adults who work with girls are critical to help them develop the skills to cope with these relational issues—skills like conflict resolution, healthy communication, and problem solving—so that these barriers no longer prevent girls from stepping into more public leadership roles.
Are you a mom, teacher, dad or friend of a girl? ANY GIRL?
She NEEDS you. Actually, really and truly NEEDS YOU.
She needs you especially to learn how to communicate, manage conflict, and solve problems, but also to see, absorb, and learn things like empathy, collaboration, fairness, and responsible citizenship.
How to do this?
Don’t think you’ve failed if you get a halfhearted answer or a shrug. Just ask. About her favorite things. About her goals and dreams. Don’t talk about yourself and try to impress her; this isn’t about you. This is about you showing her that SHE MATTERS, and deserves to be listened to and taken seriously.
Walk the walk.
This could be a good time to proverbially “check yourself before you wreck yourself.” What does your example say about your own confidence? All she has to do is look at the way you carry yourself or interact with groups to gauge your self-perception. Be a convincing example; not just a convincing talker.
Everyone will say this one is the hardest, and that technology is just a given and we have to learn to live in a fragmented, scattered world that is constantly changing, and oh yeah, don’t ever miss out on anything ever.
Keep it simple: just be present. Let your actions show that her time is valuable to you and you appreciate her spending it with you.
HUGE one right here. We are all organized, efficient, and in-control people (or, maybe not) but that super hands-on style doesn’t leave much room for learning by doing. From a young age, girls can choose what they want, even it’s the green cup instead of the blue one.
Sure, they won’t always know what’s best – and that’s ok – but as long as she’s staying safe…what’s the harm? Be honest.
If it’s uncomfortable because you lose a sense of control, or she might look weird or have to take an extra step…then there’s the problem. How is she going to learn to make choices and accept consequences if she doesn’t get to practice?
Be a mentor.
Mentoring. This doesn’t automatically age you thirty years or require you to have a mahogany desk, a bona-fide genius level IQ or be known as THE expert on something.
Think of it this way: Share Some Of Your Time With Someone Younger Than You. Doesn’t matter how much at first, just start building the habit.
Progress IS happening. Doesn’t every girl deserve to feel like she matters?