Author: Beth Malcolm
Beth Malcolm is the Director of the Girls’ Fund at Canadian Women’s Foundation. Beth has led the development of the Girls’ Fund, an initiative funding programs across the country working with girls nine to 13. Beth has worked with pregnant teens, single parents, adult and young offenders as well as developing a Social Enterprise funding stream at United Way.
This is the sixth post in the Confidence Stories series in partnership with Always®. Confidence Stories feature stories, tips and ideas to support girls, build their confidence, and encourage them to Keep Playing #LikeAGirl.
Most girls start out strong in life: they score higher than boys in reading and writing, they tend to make friends more easily, and they have stronger verbal skills. However, as they approach adolescence, many girls start to struggle.
Research shows that only 14% of girls in Grade 10 feel confident, yet confidence is at the core of a number of positive outcomes for girls, including higher grades, better physical health, more career choices, and higher earning potential.
When a girl feels confident, she is also more likely to ask for help, to have the strength to resist peer pressure, to cope better with conflict and other problems, and to not blame herself if she is assaulted.
Do you ever worry your daughter spends too much time texting friends? Maybe you wish she would spend more time with the family or take up a new hobby or sport.
Every parent wants their child to have a healthy balance of interests. But how can we tell when they’re on track, and how do we help when they’re not?
One of the best ways is to ensure girls have a variety of “connection points,” including family, friends, school, community activities, and personal interests. Focusing too much on just one connection, narrows her sources of validation. If she loses this connection, she becomes at risk of feeling overwhelmed or losing her sense of identity. By helping girls develop multiple ways to connect, they become more resilient and learn to buffer themselves from potential losses.
CHALLENGE: Research shows that when girls are constantly exposed to sexualized, unrealistic media images of women, their self-confidence is undermined and they become highly critical of their bodies.
SOLUTION: Help girls to question these images by enrolling them in a media literacy program. These after-school programs teach girls to learn to recognize gender stereotypes in TV shows, movies, video games, advertising, and music videos, and to build a more positive self-image.
With International Day of the Girl approaching on October 11, the time is perfect to talk about how we can all work to develop resilience in the girls in our life.
Resilience is the ability to “bounce back” from problems. It allows us to deal with life’s many challenges and to recover from trauma. Girls who lack resilience often have low self-esteem, are emotionally vulnerable and easily influenced by others, accept mistreatment, and find it difficult to cope with problems or to see that solutions are within their grasp.