Being a girl today is not the same as when their mothers were growing up. They are subject to different and more intense challenges and pressures than the previous generation. From about the age of 10 a girls’ self-esteem goes into decline; the pressure to achieve in the academic, sporting and arts arenas is enormous. While her mother will also have gone through the process of recalibrating her whole identity and working out friendships, what she believes in and how she fits into the world, her mum will have been able to do it in the privacy of her own home without the full glare of the spotlight that is social media to hinder the process.
The stresses in a tween and teen girl’s life are so great now that eating disorders, self-harm and depression are more prevalent than ever before. Girls are growing up much faster. Steve Biddulph in his new book, Raising Girls, talks about our 18 being their 14 and our 14, their 10. They are exposed to far more media and with it relentless messages about how they should look and behave. For girls how they look, and their ‘hotness’, has become a constant obsession. Young girls are behaving in a way they feel they should, rather than in a way they would like.
At the same time girls are growing up in an era of ‘girl power’ where they are encouraged to believe they are capable of anything. Perhaps the two conflicting forces of enormous pressure to perform and to grow up and to look ‘hot’ come together with this talk of empowerment to create a situation where girls struggle to voice what they need and how they feel. Sometimes girls’ words come out mean. And then we parents struggle with words too.
You may be concerned about preserving your daughter’s innocence in a world which encourages them to grow up so fast. You may worry about the effect of the media, particularly on body image. Strong self-esteem is vital for children to be their best and to cope with the inevitable knocks of life and the highly competitive world of the 21st century. While we want our girls to strive to do their best it is important that girls are not handicapped by unrealistic perfectionist tendencies and that they learn to cope with and learn from failures.
This talk looks at the issues that are especially relevant to girls; how girls are different and how parents can help. We look at techniques parents can use to bring up your daughters to be strong, confident, willing to try new things and with a strong sense of self-worth while encouraging consideration for others. In particular we teach practical and effective strategies for fostering strong self-esteem and a positive body image and for encouraging a ‘growth mindset’ and healthy attitudes to struggle and set-backs.