5 Ways to Help Girls Resist the Pressure to be Perfect
Girls today are told they can do anything. Unfortunately, the message they’re often getting is that they have to do everything and please everyone–get straight A’s in school, have the right look, and manage their jam-packed schedules. All this pressure is adding up to big time stress. According to The Supergirl Dilemma, a recent study conducted by Girls Inc., more than half of girls in middle school reported that they often feel stressed. By the time girls get into high school, that number jumps to 74%. Perhaps even more disturbing is that one third of all girls in grades 3-12 said they often feel sad and unhappy.
When girls get caught up in the quest to be supergirls, they are less likely to feel confident in themselves and celebrate what truly makes them amazing. Here are five tips to help the girls in your life tackle The Supergirl Dilemma:
1. Does the pressure to do it all sound familiar? You might not be worried about making the honor roll or wearing the It brands anymore, but there’s a good chance you’ve felt the twinges of insecurity that come from trying to juggle career and family while looking the part of the put-together mommy. Supergirls and Superwomen hear the same nagging voice, and it says you’re not good enough. Give yourself a break and take time for healthy stress relief. To break this damaging “super” cycle, we have to start with ourselves.
2. Teach girls to be savvy and critical media consumers. Resist the urge to lecture about what you think is inappropriate. Instead, ask them what they like about the movies and TV shows they watch and the magazines they read. What do they dislike? Talk about the difference between fantasy and reality by showing girls real examples of retouching. Point out how often retouching is used to make models and actors look artificially flawless. **NORMAL In Schools addition: in 2011 the American Medical Association appealed to advertisers to stop air-brushing and re-touching because we now know it leads to negative body esteem in teens.
3. Encourage girls to exercise their bragging rights. Too often, girls are hesitant to talk about what makes them amazing because they don’t want to be seen as conceited or they feel like they’re not perfect enough to be proud of themselves. Turn that thinking around by challenging girls to take pride in all of their amazing qualities, not just their achievements. Ask a girl what makes her amazing. If you get a sheepish shrug or an “I don’t know,” press on. You can spark the conversation by sharing a few of her internal qualities that you think are amazing, but don’t let her off the hook until she can say this sentence out loud: “I’m amazing because…”
4. Discuss the value of making mistakes and taking healthy risks. Many girls are so focused on being perfect and doing things “right” that they miss out on valuable opportunities because they are so afraid of failure. Share a mistake you made or a risk you took in life that helped you get where you are today.
5. When girls talk about the pressures they feel, the best thing you can do is listen. Don’t judge, interrupt, or get upset. Remember that what girls need most of all in their lives are supportive adults who take the time to hear what they’re saying.
This post originally appeared on Hip Slope Mama.