building self-esteem in girls
Got a kid who can’t—or won’t—assert herself around others? Highlights Magazine interviewed me, Dr. Michele Borba, and Dr. Kristin Buss for strategies on how to help passive young people find their voices. Check out our responses using the link below and at the “Smart Answer to Parents’ Toughest Questions” section on Highlights.com
For more information on helping your child move beyond passivity, aggression, or passive aggression and on to more assertive communication, check out the activities, games and discussion ideas in How to Be Angry: An Assertive Anger Expression Group Guide for Kids & Teens.
There’s nothing that an idealistic, trying-to-change-the-world-one-child-at-a-time, do-gooder like me values more than hearing that their work is truly making a difference for others. Yesterday, Vanessa Reinelt, a homeschooling mom of two and teacher of 4 other children, sent me this music-to-my-ears feedback:
We have been working through your “How to Be Angry” curriculum and already are seeing huge benefits. Our children (ages 10-13) are already identifying their anger and striving to express their anger assertively! I have looked at many programs and resources trying to find an appropriate one to teach the kids about emotional and social health. None can compare to the depth and quality that yours provides. I absolutely love the format you use. Teaching the 4 types of Anger Expression and with the healthiest (Assertiveness) as the last module. I genuinely believe if we teach children about expressing…emotions in healthy ways, the human race will stand a chance in reaching the next millennium.
Thanks again for your time Ms. Whitson. You are truly a credit to your profession. Thank you for your amazing book. Your work is making the world a better place.
Thank YOU, Vanessa, for prioritizing the social and emotional health of kids!
As I started reading this article, “Why 6-Year Old Girls Want to Be Sexy,” I could hear my mind saying “UGH!” and thinking about the conversations I have been having…and will need to continue to have…with my two young daughters.
As I got to this section, however, I breathed a bit of a reassured sigh–validated that despite the challenges from the media, there is indeed much that Moms (and Dads and other caregivers!) can do about sexualized media messages:
“Mothers feel so overwhelmed by the sexualizing messages their daughters are receiving from the media that they feel they can do nothing to help,” she said. “Our study’s findings indicate otherwise — we found that in actuality, mothers are key players in whether or not their daughters sexualize themselves. Moms can help their daughters navigate a sexualizing world by instructing their daughters about their values and by not demonstrating objectified and sexualized behaviors themselves.”
Check out the whole article here:
- First…check out Friendship & Other Weapons, of course, and the featured sections on helping young girls examine music lyrics, advertising, social media, and technology. My article “Thinner, Sexier, Hotter” talks about sexualization in media and gives adults practical ideas for helping kids think critically about these messages.
- Next, check out Pigtail Pals and Ballcap Buddies, led by the tireless Melissa Wardy who always has something bold, brave, and inspiring to say about the impact of media sexualization on kids. Mattel and Monster High–watch out!
- Third, check out the innovative work of Ines Almeida and her new online marketplace that celebrates childhood without limits and gender stereotypes.
- And fourth, New Moon Girls is a great publication and option for young girls who want to be inspired by their peers and celebrate all the things that girls can do without the limits of having to be “sexy” at a young age.
Not long ago, my daughter, her best friend and I had a full day’s worth of activity and adventure, enjoying carnival games at a local festival, eating bags of salty popcorn, running through icy cold fountains when the day’s heat became too intense and following it all up with a late afternoon movie. It was Girl Time at its best!
Which is why I was totally blown away when, after dropping off her friend, my daughter’s answer to my innocent inquiry of, “So, what should we do for dinner?” was met with a raging, “Nothing! Can we just go home already? I think we’ve bonded enough for one day.”
“Was that a car that just rear-ended me?” I thought momentarily. “Can words cause whiplash?” I wondered. My white knuckles clutched the steering wheel with primitive force and I’m pretty sure the woman in the lane next to me witnessed steam coming out of my ears.
“Seriously?” I started out calmly. Unfortunately, I only began that way. Quick as a flash, angry words of hurt and indignation rang forth from my mouth. I promised to never take my daughter anywhere… ever… again. I threatened to cancel our “bonding plans” for next weekend’s end-of-school-year trip. I lied and told her that I had had a miserable day, too. In short, I mirrored the emotions my daughter had just unleashed on me and fueled the out-of-the-blue conflict with ten additional gallons of gasoline. When my rant was over, I looked at her in the rearview mirror and I knew I had blown it.
For the rest of this not-so-Mom-of-the-Year-moment–including my thoughts on how I would approach this situation if I could have a Do-Over–please check out my full article in the HuffingtonPost:
Please also check out the tab on LSCI Skills for Parents training, for more information on de-escalating conflicts with kids and improving parent-child relationships.
Enter to win a free, signed copy of Friendship & Other Weapons: Group Activities to Help Young Girls Cope With Bullying. Click here or on the link below to visit Mom Does Reviews for drawing rules and your chance to win. While you’re there, check out all of the nice things this reviewer had to say about my book 🙂
If you are interested in receiving a review copy of Friendship & Other Weapons or How to Be Angry: An Assertive Anger Expression Group Guide for Kids and Teens, please email me at Signe@signewhitson.com
In the LSCI Skills for Parents trainings, we teach parents and caregivers skills for preventing power struggles and declining invitations to arguments. I like this honest account from bestselling author, Rosaline Wiseman–both for her showing how easily we all can get drawn into conflict and how the simplest of moves can de-escalate situations effectively.
Rachel Simmons is one of the first people to inspire me to work in the field of girl bullying. I love what she says here to girls–encouraging them to own their feelings and accept their imperfections. I also love the practical skill set she encourages: giving girls a framework for analyzing what they can do better and what they did well in particular aspects of their lives.
While you are checking out Rachel’s video, be sure to browse around the Toward the Stars site–it’s a brand new initiative launched by the visionary Ines Almeida. Her “tribe’s” purpose is to help reduce the threats to girlhood that crush girls ‘ true nature and potential. Her dream is to create a unique marketplace focused on changing gender stereotypes that cause girls to obsess over body image, keep them from taking leadership roles, and limit girls’ interests in sciences and math.