Help Your Growing Girl Keep Her Confidence Growing Too

Physical changes are only one part of puberty—the brain grows and develops too, affecting mood, confidence and the need for independence.

Being a parent is tricky stuff – just when you think you get the hang of things, everything changes. That’s why we created the Parent’s Guide to Puberty – to help you answer her questions and keep your daughter’s confidence growing through puberty and beyond. Get the free downloadable guide here.

Mind the Confidence Gap
56% of girls lose confidence during puberty1. You may know from your own experience that girls are more likely to blame themselves when something goes wrong, apologize when they give their opinion, overthink decisions, and dwell on mistakes2. You can change that. Arm your daughter with the tools she needs to combat the confidence gap and show the world that doing things #LikeAGirl is amazing.

Combat the Gap by Cultivating the Growth Mindset
If a child feels like her abilities can’t improve she often won’t even try when failure is possible3. In psychology, that’s called the fixed mindset. And girls are more at risk than boys4. The growth mindset is the belief that you can grow your ability with effort5. This belief has powerful effects — it helps kids do better in school, seek harder challenges, and bounce back from failures.

The Right Compliments Can Raise Her Confidence
Encourage your daughter’s growth mindset by how you affirm her. Praising results can make her feel pressured to continually prove herself and nervous about failure6. But complimenting strategies and determination—what’s called “process praise”—will make her feel celebrated for her persistence.

What to praise7:

  • Trying different strategies. Ex: “I’m impressed you thought of several ways to solve that problem.”
  • Seeking challenges. Ex: “I’m proud of you for choosing a challenge.”
  • Persistence. Ex. “You stuck with it until you figured it out! That’s great!”

What NOT to praise:

  • Physical attractiveness. Ex: “Your hair is so beautiful.”
  • Inherent intelligence. Ex: “You’re so smart.”

Setbacks Move Girls Forward

Finally, make sure missteps don’t stop her in her tracks! It’s up to parents to encourage girls in their passions, embrace positive risk-taking, and help them shake off their setbacks with self-kindness and perseverance.

  • Empathize. Encourage your daughter by saying “I know this is hard, and I’m sorry”, instead of “It’s not a big deal!”
  • Encourage her to own her next step. Help her regroup and plan her next move by asking her to write down some new small goals.
  • Model the growth mindset. When a girl sees her parents embracing challenges, learning from setbacks, and being kind to themselves, it gives her the confidence to do the same8.

As a parent, you can help your daughter take on all the changes of puberty and bloom into the confident young woman she was born to be, proving to the world that she is unstoppable.

Mom & Daughter Activities
If you’ve been reviewing Always puberty materials with your daughter, you know that one of the most important tools for developing confidence is practice. These exercises are fun ways for you and your daughter to build her confidence together.

Puberty is a difficult time. Your girl needs to know that it’ll be okay. If you really want to get through to her, you have to tell her how you got through it. Try this activity to open up communication between the two of you:

Girl Talk: Trading Stories
When you admit you had a hard time during puberty, too, it will affirm her feelings. Explain how you rose above it, and she’ll understand that she will, too. Nervous aboutopening up? Try putting it on paper and trading stories in letters or emails. The important thing is to keep communicating.

The growth mindset—which is the understanding that your skills and abilities can improve with practice—is an important tool for your daughter during puberty. Introduce it by explaining that the brain is like a muscle that gets stronger with exercise, practice, and challenges7. Here’s an easy way to help her put the growth mindset to use:

Flex your Brain
Help your daughter step out of her comfort zone by asking her to think of a goal she has. Then, write down three steps she can take to achieve her goal, and celebrate together when she completes each step! Continue encouraging her to stick with it by reminding her that she is #unstoppable!

Your daughter will face risk with more confidence if she has a healthy attitude towards failure and understands the importance of perseverance. Teach her about these traits with this activity:

Role-Model Research
You know the people that your daughter admires. Do a little research and uncover a misstep that occurred on one of her hero’s paths to success. How did that person deal with the issue? What role did perseverance play in her achievements? Remind your daughter of that the next time she has a setback.

The right kind of praise is important for forming a growth mindset. It’s called “process praise,” and it’s the celebration of your daughter’s attitude and perseverance—things she can control— rather than innate traits such as intelligence or beauty. Breaking the habit of praising for fixed traits and starting to praise process can be hard. But remember: You, Mom and Dad, are unstoppable, too! Here’s an easy way to practice:

Track Your Praise
Track how many times you offer process praise throughout the day by jotting it down in a notebook. For example, note when she comes home with a good grade, and you say, “You worked really hard to study for that test” instead of “Wow, you’re so smart!” Or ask someone else at home to help you track your praise. When you start tracking your habits, it’s easier to catch yourself in the moment and change your behavior for the better. For more information, check out this course on growth mindset, designed by experts to help parents like you!

1 Always 2014 Confidence & Puberty Survey – on line survey with 1,300 females ages 16 to 24
2 Nolen-Hoeksema, Susan. Women Who Think Too Much: How to Break Free of Overthinking and Reclaim Your Life. New York: Holt Paperbacks, 2004. 2 Reprint edition.
3 Blackwell, Lisa, Kali H. Trzesniewski, and Carol S. Dweck. 'Implicit Theories of Intelligence Predict Achievement Across an Adolescent Transition: A Longitudinal Study and an Intervention.' Child Development 78.1 (2007): 246-63. Print.
4 Gunderson, Elizabeth A., Sarah J. Gripshover, Carol S. Dweck, Susan Goldin-Meadow, and Susan C. Levine. 'Parent Praise to 1- to 3-Year-Olds Predicts Children's Motivational Frameworks 5 Years Later.'Child Development 84.5 (2013): 1526-541. Wiley. Web. 24 July 15.
5 Master, Allison. “Growth Mindset.” interview. 16 Apr. 2015
6 Gunderson, Elizabeth A., Sarah J. Gripshover, Carol S. Dweck, Susan Goldin-Meadow, and Susan C. Levine. 'Parent Praise to 1- to 3-Year-Olds Predicts Children's Motivational Frameworks 5 Years Later.'Child Development 84.5 (2013): 1526-541. Wiley. Web. 24 July 15.
7 Dweck, Carol. Promoting Growth Mindsets. Digital.
8 Simmons, Rachel, and Simone Marean. 'Growth Mindset.' Telephone interview. 9 Apr. 2015 7 Mackey, Allyson P., Alison T. Miller Singley, and Silvia A. Bunge. 'Intensive reasoning training alters patterns of brain connectivity at rest.' The Journal of Neuroscience 33.11 (2013): 4796-4803.


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