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Category: parenting
  • From first crushes to first dates, these tips will help you prepare your Mighty Girl for a lifetime of healthy relationships.

    Maybe your Mighty Girl has started talking about a classmate with a dreamy look in her eye, maybe she and her friends giggle over a pop star or movie heartthrob, or maybe she's outright told you she wants to go on a date! "Between the ages of 10 and 13, kids start having crushes and thinking about sexuality and romance, however they envision it," says Dr. Marilyn Benoit, a child and adolescent psychiatrist — and that's uncertain territory for many parents. It's natural to wonder if she's ready to enter the dating world, or to want to protect her from a broken heart. At the same time, these early dating experiences provide an opportunity for parents to help their girls lay a framework for future healthy relationships. It's no wonder that parents are often at a loss for how to support their daughters as they enter this new phase! Continue reading Continue reading

  • Experts offer tips for parents on building girls' confidence in math.

    “Why do smart people enjoy saying that they are bad at math?” laments Petra Bonfert-Taylor, a professor of engineering at Dartmouth College. “Few people would consider proudly announcing that they are bad at writing or reading.” After seeing one too many examples of adults “passing on [mathematical anxiety] like a virus,” Bonfert-Taylor has an important message for math-phobic parents and educators: “We are passing on from generation to generation the phobia for mathematics... [and] as a result, too many of us have lost the ability to examine a real-world problem, translate it into numbers, solve the problem and interpret the solution.” Continue reading Continue reading

  • Unhealthy perfectionism has become a growing contributor to teens' rising anxiety.

    Many tweens and teens struggle with anxiety and perfectionism, and parents often bemoan that "she puts so much pressure on herself." Rachel Simmons, an expert on girls' development and the author of Enough As She Is, however, says that perception puts even more pressure on kids. "The very phrasing of the statement — 'on herself' — lays blame for distress at the feet of our teens, rather than a culture that is stoking the flames of their anxiety," she writes. "It puts the onus for change on kids — just chill, we seem to be saying, and you’ll be okay!" With a recent study finding a 33 percent spike in the number of teens who feel they have to be perfect to win approval, including from their friends and parents, it's more important than ever to acknowledge what teens are going through and help them develop strategies to deal with perfectionism. Continue reading Continue reading

  • Easy conversation starters to show Mighty Girls that you care about her mind, her feelings, and her fascinating self!

    'Tis the season for holiday gatherings, which means starting conversations with friends and family you don't see very often — including little girls. At such times, no matter how dedicated you are to girl empowerment, it's all too easy to fall into the stereotypical, appearance-based comments as a way to break the ice, especially with younger girls. After all, we've all spent years being taught by society that the best way to start a conversation with a little girl is to praise how pretty her dress is, how sparkly her nails are, or how cute she looks. However, with many girls developing body image concerns as early as 1st grade, it's time to move past a fixation on girls' appearances. And, of course, as we all know, girls have so much more to contribute to the conversation — all we have to do is ask! Continue reading Continue reading

  • "My daughter's body is actually hers, not mine."

    The many gatherings of family and friends during the holiday season give parents a special chance to teach their daughters an empowering lesson: you don't owe anyone your physical affection. "The ritual of demanding affection from children on cue is one of those tiny, everyday little lessons in which we teach children — especially girls — that they are to tailor their emotional responses to please others," observes blogger Kasey Edwards in a Daily Life op-ed. By letting kids decide whether to greet someone with a hug or a kiss, parents can teach the basics of consent and bodily autonomy as early as the toddler years. And, such lessons can have an impact for years to come as Girl Scouts' development psychologist Andrea Bastianai Archibald explains: "The notion of consent may seem very grown-up and like something that doesn’t pertain to children, but the lessons girls learn when they’re young about setting physical boundaries and expecting them to be respected last a lifetime." Continue reading Continue reading

  • Violence and aggression are never signs of love or affection.

    When girls get teased, harassed, or bullied by boys, there’s often someone who pulls out this tired phrase: "I bet he likes you!" Many women have vivid memories of being told that by adult authorities when they were young and the same phrase pops up seemingly everywhere, including children's literature and movies. In recent years, however, people have started reexamining the toxic message this often well-intentioned phrase sends. Barbara Dee, author of Maybe He Just Likes You, a new middle grade book tackling this issue, says "I spent a lot of time following the #MeToo stories that were everywhere in the news. I began wondering: Where does this behavior come from?... Those words — 'maybe he just likes you' — are so familiar and so dangerous." In this blog post, we'll explore how this phase teaches both girls and boys to normalize unhealthy relationships — and denies them the chance to have the fulfilling, respectful friendships and romantic relationships they deserve. Continue reading Continue reading

  • Girls' self-confidence often takes a big hit at puberty but these skills can help keep her confidence strong during the teen years.

    “A pre-teen girl is at a unique moment in her life. The spark that is her potential grows more intense, yet she'll have to fight against gender norms that threaten to diminish it," observes writer Rebecca Ruiz. "There are countless ways she'll feel pressured to hide or change her authentic self.” Rachel Simmons, an expert on girls' development and author of the parenting book, Enough As She Is, agrees: "Girls are at their fiercest and most authentic prior to puberty." While research has confirmed that girls' self-confidence often drops after puberty, Simmons asserts that there are many ways parents can help girls keep their confidence strong during the teen years. To that end, she recommends "seven skills to consider teaching your daughter by the time she turns 13" that will help your Mighty Girl feel prepared for the challenges ahead. Continue reading Continue reading

  • "The kids who are getting this process praise, strategy and taking on hard things and sticking to them, those are the kids who want the challenge."

    We all want to motivate Mighty Girls to be their best, but did you know that how you praise girls can make a big difference to their resilience and self-confidence? Stanford professor Dr. Carol Dweck, one of the world's leading researchers in the field of motivation and the author of the bestselling book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, has found that there is a strong praise paradox for girls: "Praise for intelligence or ability backfires," she asserts. By understanding why telling a girl things like "you're so smart" can actually make her less confident, and by finding more effective ways to praise girls instead, parents and teachers can help foster an attitude that keeps them striving for success — even when the going gets tough. Continue reading Continue reading

  • Five books to help mothers & daughters share, learn, and grow together through the tween and teen years.

    A strong mother-daughter bond can be a very powerful thing! But as girls grow older, especially as they reach their tweens and teens, that bond is often tested as girls increasingly exercise their growing independence. Investing some extra time and attention to this relationship pays big dividends for both of you — after all, you’re on this journey together! Continue reading Continue reading

  • "More often than not, bright girls believe that their abilities are innate and unchangeable."

    Parents of bright girls are often shocked to discover that their daughters can be quick to assume that they can't succeed at something new and challenging. "In my experience, smart and talented [girls and women] rarely realize that one of the toughest hurdles they'll have to overcome to be successful lies within. We judge our own abilities not only more harshly, but fundamentally differently, than men do," writes psychologist Heidi Grant Halvorson, the author of Nine Things Successful People Do Differently. "At the 5th grade level, girls routinely outperform boys in every subject, including math and science... [but] bright girls [are] much quicker to doubt their ability, to lose confidence, and to become less effective learners as a result." By understanding why bright girls question their capabilities, parents can find more effective ways to support their daughters, building their resilience and confidence so they can take on the world. Continue reading Continue reading

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