Thanks to social activism, boosted by the reach of social media and the greater awareness created by celebrities and influencers, the women of today are more supportive of other women. Undoubtedly, we still have a long way to go. However, at least these days more women are helping and encouraging each other instead of fighting and being rivals. Female colleagues help each other out instead of competing in front of the boss. Femmepreneurs and bossbabes network and share resources with other businesswomen. Women praise other women more openly these days, instead of being catty and giving in to petty jealousy. Likewise, it’s time for mothers (and fathers) to encourage their daughters to be confident young ladies who support each other at home, at school and within social circles. It’s time to put the girls’ days of competing for the most popular boy’s attention behind us. Instead, let’s together focus on raising confident girls.
Encouraging Confident Girls Who Are Allies, Not Enemies
According to Caroline Adams Miller, a positive psychology expert and author of Getting Grit: The Evidence-Based Approach to Cultivating Passion, Perseverance and Purpose, one of the reasons girls compete with each other is because of a fear of losing out on opportunities. According to Miller, young girls might believe that good chances are limited in life. In turn, this makes them believe that their success might be limited.
“Unfortunately, it’s been communicated to us over the years that there are fewer spots for women – a limited inventory,” points out Donna Orender, a business leader and pro basketball pioneer in the United States, as reported by girl-empowerment website, A Mighty Girl. Says Orender, girls may conclude that losing one chance to another girl means they will never get another chance. Thus, it’s important for young girls to know that there are endless possibilities and opportunities in this world.
What Parents Can Do To Raise Girls Supportive Of Other Girls
In a survey studying over 1,300 girls in the U.S. aged from 8 to 18, authors of The Confidence Code for Girls, Katty Kay and Claire Shipman found that confidence in girls drop by 30% between the ages of 8 and 14. Says Shipman, “Right until age 8, there’s really no difference between the confidence level of girls and boys.”
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Thus, it is important to start building a girl’s confidence from young. With greater confidence, girls are more likely to see each other as allies, rather than threats. Here are some things parents can cultivate in young children to help encourage girls to be more confident:-
1. Use Expansive Body Language
Social psychologist Amy Cuddy observes that girls often start showing “shrinking behaviour” around the ages of 11 to 13. This is when they start to slump or slouch and try to take up as little space as possible, due to a feeling of powerlessness. Says Cuddy, “Powerlessness can be dangerous and make it hard to know whom to trust.” On the other hand, she says that “feeling powerful activates what we call the behavioral approach system and makes us more optimistic, generally happier, and more confident and willing to take risks.” According to Cuddy, it’s important to show girls images of confident girls and women standing with strength.