Did you know that between the ages of 8 and 14, girls’ confidence drops by 30%?
The lack of confidence can be easily seen in how young girls try to conform or turn to social media and peers for affirmation. They often feel the pressure to dress a certain way, look a certain way, and act a certain way. With YouTube and Insta famous models now a big thing, I’ve seen girls as young as 8 with hair extensions and long eyelashes or dressed just like adults, wanting to be seen and made to feel beautiful.
With a lack of confidence and a deep craving for outside affirmation, it’s a lot easier for girls to succumb to pressure and feel like they have to fit in and play a certain part.
But, what’s really at the cause of that 30% drop in confidence? Is it really social media or peer pressure?
According to experts, the drop in confidence between the ages of 8 and 14 is largely due to what’s going on inside a girl’s brain during adolescence when “rumination” kicks in. Rumination is a type of thinking that focuses on distress and the likely causes or consequences of that distress without moving into the sphere of action.
Girl, I don’t think we need to raise our hands to admit this… but how often do we, as women, catch ourselves operating in that same cycle?
Rumination can be a good thing, however, and it’s one of the ways we think through problems and come up with solutions that are more focused and impactful, but when we get stuck there, well, it can cause some serious impacts on our mental health and confidence.
The challenge with rumination is that it deepens the grooves in the brain, which intensifies anxiety and depression.
So, as a mama or the primary caregiver for a young girl, how do we encourage our girls to move into the sphere of action and also build our daughter’s self-esteem so we’re raising confident and happy young women?
Well, before we tackle that question and dive into some tips, it’s important to remember that as women who share the same gender as our daughters, we are incredibly influential in their lives. According to Psych Central and many other studies, children identify with the parent who shares their gender. That means they try to act similarly and model that behavior. If they recognize a behavior as bad, they might go so far as to modify that behavior, but as they develop, they begin stepping into adult roles and behaviors that were modeled for them by their same-gender parent.
So, while we dive into some tips on building confidence, it’s important that we model these mindsets and actions, too.
Teaching our daughters confidence goes beyond more than just telling them they don’t have to try to fit in or they’re beautiful without the long extensions or eyelashes so long they need a hair net.
2 Mega Tip for Boosting a Girl’s Confidence
The book The Confidence Code for Girls and The Confidence Code for Girls Journal covers a ton of tips and gives lots of insight, but when it comes to boosting your girl’s self-confidence, 2 mega things you can do is help her:
- Take Risks
The remedy for increased confidence seems really counterintuitive because we think to improve our daughter’s self-esteem, we need to buffer her against the world or reduce her risk of failure because that will further lower her self-esteem.
But, improving self-confidence comes from taking risks, failing, and getting outside of her comfort zone. Comfort zones stall growth, so encourage your daughter to tackle something scary or try something she doesn’t do well or hasn’t yet mastered.
You can encourage your daughter to take risks by first having her make a list of all previous risks she’s taken and talk through the outcomes. Were they really that bad? When it comes to a particular risk, make a list or talk through all of the worst possible outcomes. Just getting them out in the open and discussing them can make them seem far less scary than they are or help reframe them. Another thing you can do is come up with a catchy phrase or mantra when something gets tough. Just look at how “I can do hard things” took over Instagram because it resonated so much with all of us. Come up with a similar phrase that your daughter can say when things get tough.
2. Prepare Her for Failure and Remove the Fear
It’s important to talk to your daughter about failure and normalize it. Help remove the fear and share stories about how many times successful people failed before they achieved their success. Discuss how failure isn’t personal that failing is an act, not an identity, meaning that just because she has failed doesn’t mean she’s a failure as a person.
In the heat of failure, your daughter is going to be stuck in the fear center of her brain where it’s fiery, dramatic, and scary. Give her some time to take a break by relaxing, going for a walk, reading a book, or doing something she enjoys. Then, help her process through it and talk about what she’s experiencing, how her failure has made her feel, what she’s learned and what she might do differently.
When you teach your daughter how to learn from failure, she learns to move through it rather than run from it.
Another aspect of removing fear is helping her retrain her brain. She might be stuck in toxic thoughts and a toxic pattern of storytelling which goes a little something like: “I’ll never be good enough. Everyone hates me. I’m just the ugly girl no one likes. To be beautiful, I have to buy expensive makeup, clothes, and accessories.”
Help her make a list or talk through the kind of thoughts that are going on in her head and reframe each one of them. Does everyone really hate her? Have her list 5 people who don’t. Is she really not good enough? Have her come up with at least one thing she’s good at.
Now, remember, when it comes to these tips…
you have to become a role model for retraining your own brain, embracing risks and overcoming failure, too.
But, WE can do that!
We can raise secure, positive, and happy young women and if we’re not quite there ourselves, we can get there!
If you take away anything from this article, please take away the fact that low self-esteem is not innate and it’s not the end game. Confidence can be learned and it can be boosted! There’s so much hope and so many amazing strategies, so go out and kick butt!