As young, perfectionist girls grow into adult women, and perhaps mothers, we seem to be doubly susceptible to negative self-talk. So, instead of going out for a day of pampering to help you recharge - which, frankly, lasts precisely as long as it takes the nail polish to dry - consider these strategies instead. They last a lifetime!
Unwarranted criticism. Constructive criticism. Professional criticism. Mean girl behavior. Being bullied. Being judged. Being singled out. Girls lump them all together because they all feel terrible to them. So, the simplest way to escape criticism, even though it can help you grow, is to not put yourself out there in the first place. But identifying which type of criticism is being pointed at you, it’s a lot easier to handle and more likely that you’ll get back out there.
My daughter will have to play an entirely different game once she enters the workforce. She can no longer be a member of the rule police. Schools don't help us practice taking risks. They only reward perfection, and we gals love being perfect, don’t we? And so we hide behind our straight A’s. It’s safe there. Unfortunately, the more we are concerned with failing, the less we can achieve, the less we can improvise and the less we can invent. As they say - nothing ventured, nothing gained.
So here are the new rules she'll have to learn.
Praise is one of humanity’s deepest cravings. It satisfies our need for acceptance. It can give us meaning in our lives and it can help to build our identities. It’s easy to see why parents dole it out thickly to their children. However, when used improperly, the compliments can harm the very people we are trying to encourage. In fact, Dweck’s experiments showed that, sadly, the brightest girls collapsed the most.
Here's how to avoid the pitfalls of praise and, instead, motivate your child to excel!
My daughter was in dire need of some tools to help her with the difficult conversations she was having.
Conflict management is one of those traits that no one likes to tackle, let alone practice, but research shows girls, in particular, treat it like the plague. Dealing with conflict with confidence can put girls in a position where they might not be “nice” or even likable for a little while. So, instead, they avoid any semblance of conflict to maintain their “good girl” persona. That’s unfortunate because along with strategic thinking, decision-making, and problem-solving, the most successful leaders tend to show finely-honed communication skills.
Turns out, I got a few tips to throw into my own tool-kit as well!
Wanting to be team captain was the perfect opportunity for my daughter to practice the right way to negotiate. Unfortunately, she didn’t think so...
She believed, like many women, that if she just worked hard, she should be recognized for her talent. Three separate studies found that women are less likely than men to negotiate for what they want. Men place themselves in more negotiation situations and view more interactions as negotiating opportunities. They get a lot more practice in the art of asking and, therefore, a lot more comfortable than women.
My daughter learns that how you ask can reduce the stress of asking and can be much more effective.
Alexa was back but this time my daughter was ready. As author Lisa Damour says, “As a culture, we do a terrible job of helping girls figure out when they are mad. As far as girls know, they can either be a total doormat (Cinderella) or flat out cruel (Cinderella’s step-sisters). We rarely help girls master assertion, the art of standing up for one's self, while respecting the rights of others. We send the message that good girls are nice all the time and then we are somehow surprised when girls act out in unacceptable ways.”
Not only do studies prove that girls who spend a lot of time comparing themselves to their friend's looks, likes, boyfriends and life receive a heavy hit on their body image, the famous “swimsuit study” suggests that these girls also have less confidence and lower school performance.
My daughter is learning that envy is very different from jealousy, competition, and even admiration. Her friend isn't a friend, and she isn't jealous, she's resentful. Most would say it's just middle-school girl stuff. However, the research says that if my daughter doesn't learn to understand these differences it could cost her her confidence into adulthood.
Adam Grant says that leveraged well, procrastination can have powerful benefits like enhanced creativity and huge leaps in critical thinking. This approach is especially good for unsolved tasks.
However, how should I explain this to my kids so that they don't feel they can continue allowing their rooms to look like bottoms of bird cages in the name of creativity? How to ensure they don't start to believe forgetting or putting off projects and assignments is their ticket to intellectual brilliance?
The problem is that this isn't the kind of procrastination that's beneficial. Procrastination only helps divergent thinking and incubation as long as you don't wait too long which, ironically, often happens when you are disorganized.
Goldilocks procrastination. That is the goal.
A friend recently asked me, “What if your daughter doesn’t want to be a leader when she grows up?”
It’s a question I have heard before. It’s the, “Should we even be focusing on female leadership if most women eventually end up choosing to lean out?” question.
So what do I think? I think the premise of this question is entirely wrong. I don’t believe becoming a leader only occurs when you get ‘that’ position or they crown you with ‘that’ title.
In fact, given how different the economy is from when I grew up, I don’t think my daughter has any choice but to be a leader.
High self-esteem is internal. When we have it, we feel less dependent on the approval of others. We even get more comfortable with disapproval. Despite what you may think, self-confidence doesn’t take a lifetime to build. It can be harnessed and tapped with this simple 15 min exercise. Kids can do it too!
When you lack confidence, it’s hard to be authentic because you are constantly second guessing yourself. Therefore, when you lack confidence, you lack presence. This is a problem because people want to be around those who exude authenticity. Luckily for my daughter, doing something for just two minutes a day, started to trick her mind AND her body. Well…up to a point…
The final problem we need to solve in this workshop is the kids’ fear of taking on leadership roles. Why do we feel fearful when we we think of leadership? "Because, when you ask someone what the word “leadership” evokes - what images, words, symbols, feelings or people spring to mind? Responses are usually things like “vision,” “inspiring,” “greatness,” “Winston Churchill,” “Superman” and “awesome.” The underlying idea is clear: leadership is a major, even heroic challenge, needing exceptional qualities. But do most of us believe we have these qualities? I suspect not." - John Scouller
If you want kids to be leaders, you need to teach them there are many different styles of leadership. This way, they can envision themselves in the role. Once they recognize their leadership style is acceptable, they'll see there is a place at the leadership table for everyone.
During a fifth-grade workshop, I discover girls believe there is only one "right" way to be a leader and they don't identify with that "ideal" leader at all.
Teaching girls solid financial management skills can help her avoid the statistics - women earn less, save less, retire less, and are less comfortable with managing money.
Feeling different often ignites the imposter complex. Kids can go through this too. Understanding the triggers and a few techniques can help you overcome the feeling of imposter complex.
Research has proven that there is a clear pattern among people who rise steadily from hurt, adversity and failure - they decide to own their stories, and deal head-on with the pain and discomfort.
When women advocate for others, we stay within our societal roles. We are not seen as aggressive and when we champion others, the behavior is expected, applauded and rewarded - a lot. When we tap into this magic elixir we win (for us and others) every time. Is this a double standard? Yes. Does it work? Absolutely.