Girls

1 Minute Read: What’s Draining Your Energy?

Your energy is vital to your happinessThere are three main areas to look at:

  1. Your activities.  Are you spending too much time doing things that drain your energy?  Most of us do.   Look for ways to scale back, ask for help, delegate or say NO.  Choose activities which give you energy.  This could be anything you find enjoyable or relaxing.
  2. Your thoughts.  So what are you thinking?  Are your thoughts positive, negative or anxious?  Something else?  You CAN control your thoughts.  Begin by being mindful of them.  Your thoughts feed into your emotions which contribute to your energy level.
  3. People.  Who are you spending time with in person or on social media?  Limit the amount of time you spend with people who cause you stress in some way.  When you have a choice, select people who lift you up, inspire and support you.  They will give you energy and inspiration.

You are in control.

Your energy is vital to your happiness.  Protect it.  Nurture it.  Share it.

Need help asserting your voice?  You and I should talk.  Please contact me via email or phone 703-505-2413 to arrange an appointment.

 


Michelle Kelley 10.14 c

Michelle Kelley Licensed Counselor, Owner, Girls Stand Strong

Licensed counselor and founder of Girls Stand Strong Michelle Kelley, LCSW, helps girls and women of all ages develop and improve their self-image, self-esteem, relationship and communication skills, emotional understanding, coping skills, the ability to handle difficult situations and people, and resiliency to create a brighter, better and more successful tomorrow. For more information about Michelle’s coaching and counseling services, call (703) 505-2413 or email michelle@girlsstandstrong.com.

Read What People Are Saying About Michelle Kelley.

My first therapist, but not my last.

Mother

Today is my mom’s birthday.  She is ageless to me so her age matters not.  When a connection with another person runs so deep you don’t actually see that person with your eyes, you see them with your soul… that is the type of bond we have.  So I thought I would take this opportunity to talk about my mom and how she has inspired me to do the work I do.

From a very early age my mom was a calming presence in my life.  She was an introvert before anyone knew what that was.  The result was favorable for me.  We have literally had thousands and thousands of hours in deep conversation — about relationships, emotions, life and even the weather.  Because of her never-ending patience with me, I was able to search for meaning (which I desperately craved) and reasons for why bad things happen to good people, why certain people stayed married and others did not, why some people are so difficult, and why some (like me) always preferred to stay home rather than go to parties.

She was my first therapist but not my last.  She supported me through my journeys in life, school, relationships and work.  She was there when I got married, had kids, and got divorced.  Mom is still here for me now — after her own devastating stroke.  I continue to go to her with my questions, frustrations, accomplishments or just to share.  

Though I tell her all of the time, she doesn’t believe how much her wisdom, kindness and patience made me the strong woman I am today.  Actually, all of the women in my family have stood on the shoulders of women who preceded them.  We are like one big chain link with every generation getting stronger and wiser.  My daughters are next in line and I am doing my best to give them what my mother gave me plus a little extra.

So Mom, thank you so much for being you and allowing me to be me.  You are my rock and I love you so much. 

My mission in life is to help, support, educate and empower women so that they can be their personal best and live a life filled with self-awareness and fulfillment… much like Mom did for me.

We women need to stop trying to do everything by ourselves, so let’s spread the word.  If you know of someone who needs support and guidance in being their best self, please share this newsletter with them; I can’t reach them without you.

Life can be difficult but I will help navigate through the rough spots.  Please don’t wait any longer. Call me today (any time of day) at 703.505.2413.


Michelle Kelley 10.14 c

Michelle Kelley Licensed Counselor, Owner, Girls Stand Strong

Licensed counselor and founder of Girls Stand Strong Michelle Kelley, LCSW, helps girls and women of all ages develop and improve their self-image, self-esteem, relationship and communication skills, emotional understanding, coping skills, the ability to handle difficult situations and people, and resiliency to create a brighter, better and more successful tomorrow. For more information about Michelle’s coaching and counseling services, call (703) 505-2413 or email michelle@girlsstandstrong.com.

Read What People Are Saying About Michelle Kelley.

It is necessary to start asking for change, for respect, to be heard and to be validated.

Skeptical Woman Looking at Man in CafeMany women struggle to break free of their “people pleaser” personality. Women who are “people pleasers” often choose not to voice their thoughts and opinions out of fear of not being liked or fear of confrontation.

I recall my own silence, especially as a young girl, and the pain it caused me. I can truly understand the phrase, “If I only knew then what I know now.” But there is no way that I could have known then what I know now. I had to live through my experiences and deal with the consequences. Only then was I able to move forward.

When girls or women lose their connection to their voice, and the ability to express their wants and needs, their feeling of personal empowerment suffers. A girl or woman who has been silenced has suffered an assault on her spirit.

Perhaps you can remember an instance when your voice was not validated or heard.  How did that make you feel? What effect did that have on your confidence?

When your thoughts and opinions are not validated, you will eventually experience a disconnection between you inner voice and you inner truth, and the messages you communicates to others.  You may begin to shut down emotionally.  You may end up traveling down the road of self-medication, drugs, abusive relationships and emotional problems.

It is necessary to start asking for change, for respect, to be heard and to be validated.  I often share my experiences and lessons learned in hope that some may avoid the seemingly lengthy amount of time it can take to learn how to make good choices.  A girl in one of my “Heathy Relationships” classes told me that she didn’t realize that she could play her part differently. In other words, she didn’t have to put up with any type of mistreatment or bullying. I gave her permission and the tools she needed to stand up for herself. You can and should do the same.

Here are 4 tips to honor and claim your voice:

  1. Create a list of your strengths.  Own them.  Be proud of them.  Don’t wait for others to validate your strengths. Validate yourself.
  2. Do you have a voice in decision making?  You have a right to be a part of this process.  You have to give yourself permission first.
  3. Revisit (reflect upon) a hurtful statement that was made to you.  How would you use your voice now?  What would you say differently?
  4. Take care of yourself (emotionally as well as physically). Too often women put themselves last in this area.

Women need to be conscious about the choices they are making in friendships, romance and life. We are not flowers in a field. We are supposed to be active participants in all areas of our lives.

I recently read a quote by Meg Ryan which stated, “If you empower women, you can change the world.” Many women are beginning to initiate positive change in their relationships.  Ultimately the positive effects will reach men, families and society.

We are in a time of great change in our personal relationships; let the change begin!

Please reach out to me for assistance if you’re ready to learn how to ask for respect and make changes in your life.  You may contact me via email or phone 703-505-2413 to arrange an appointment.


Michelle Kelley

Michelle Kelley Licensed Counselor, Owner, Girls Stand Strong

Licensed counselor and founder of Girls Stand Strong Michelle Kelley, LCSW, helps girls and women of all ages develop and improve their self-image, self-esteem, relationship and communication skills, emotional understanding, coping skills, the ability to handle difficult situations and people, and resiliency to create a brighter, better and more successful tomorrow. For more information about Michelle’s coaching and counseling services, call (703) 505-2413 or email michelle@girlsstandstrong.com.

Read What People Are Saying About Michelle Kelley.

Top 10 Ways to Preserve Girls’ Self-Esteem, Part 2

Smiling Mother and Daughter with Lipstick, Looking at MirrorIn my last article, I shared with you the first five of my top ten list of ways in which parents can help to preserve their daughter’s self-esteem during the often emotionally-turbulent years of middle school and high school.

Before we dive into the remainder of this list, remember that girls tend to experience a drop in self-esteem as they reach puberty. The problem is that many girls stop sharing with their parents at this same time when they really need them most. Negative messages from others and the media can leave a girl with fractured self-esteem and an abundance of self-doubt.

As parents, you should make sure your home is a safe place for your daughter to ask questions and discus her feelings.

This list will help you do that.

  1. Teach her it’s okay to say NO.  No is a complete sentence.  Many girls feel as if they are being mean or rude if they say No to a friend.  You can see how this can create problems for them in their social and dating world.  A girl who is not comfortable saying No is lacking the ability to hold boundaries with herself and others.  There is an epidemic of girls who have the people-pleaser personality type.  I did.  Standing up for herself and learning when it’s okay to say No is a skill you can teach and role model.  Have her practice.  We all want our daughters to be able to say No to a boy who is not respecting her boundaries.  You might be surprised how many strong, outspoken girls struggle in this area.
  2. Challenge the ideal beauty standard.  Girls are bombarded with images of the ideal beauty standard.  Today it is being thin, having straight hair (straightened with a flat iron), dark eye liner and a flawless complexion.  The media today often projects an unrealistic and often dangerous standard of beauty.  I hear many girls talk about their dissatisfaction with their physical appearance and their weight.  Talk to your daughter about her standard of beauty.  We need to widen our definition of beauty so every girl can fit into it.
  3. The real scoop on popularity.  I have yet to meet a teen who really understands popularity — or anyone else for that matter.  Popularity is difficult to define.  It’s elusive.  It may always seem just out of reach.  It’s something most girls want at some point and it can cause a lot of emotional pain.  Most adults know the reality is that after you graduate, popularity means nothing.  Encourage your daughter to explore her thoughts on popularity and challenge some of her negative thinking, such as “I could never be popular.”  What if she were popular in a different sort of way?  Again, this is not a black and white issue.  In the grey is where she will find the answers she is seeking.  You can help her.
  4. Dealing with mean girls and mean comments.  The truth is that all girls have experienced life on both sides.  We have all been a bit mean to others, and also have been on the receiving end of it.  An open discussion is what I recommend here.  One of the best pieces of advice is to always validate your daughter’s feelings.  Her feelings are real to her and they can be scary.  If she feels she is being picked on, then that is where you start the conversation.  If she is experiencing emotional pain from being picked on or bullied, seek counseling to help her learn ways to stand up for herself and overcome the self-doubt she is most likely experiencing.
  5. Stay connected — no matter what.  Let’s face it, in today’s world with teens being so connected to technology, it can be challenging to keep our own connection to them.  However, most teens really do want to have some quality time with parents and family members.  Be creative.  Listen to your daughter; don’t just talk at her.  Spend time with her doing something she enjoys.  Research shows that when parents offer an open, supportive environment at home, teenage girls are more likely to reach out in times of trouble.

A daughter is a wonderful gift. Think back to when she was a little girl coming to you about everything.  Well, she still is vulnerable and scared at times on the inside.  Remember this is a difficult time for her and her hormones are causing her to feel even more emotional.  So be patient, take a break, and get support.  The end result will be worth it.

If you feel that your daughter will benefit from speaking one-on-one with a counselor as she enters these uncertain teenage years — or if you would like to learn how to guide her —  please contact me via email or phone 703.505.2413 to arrange an appointment.

 


Michelle Kelley

Michelle Kelley Licensed Counselor, Owner, Girls Stand Strong

Licensed counselor and founder of Girls Stand Strong Michelle Kelley, LCSW, helps girls and women of all ages develop and improve their self-image, self-esteem, relationship and communication skills, emotional understanding, coping skills, the ability to handle difficult situations and people, and resiliency to create a brighter, better and more successful tomorrow. For more information about Michelle’s coaching and counseling services, call (703) 505-2413 or email michelle@girlsstandstrong.com.

Read What People Are Saying About Michelle Kelley.

Top 10 Ways to Preserve Girls’ Self-Esteem, Part 1

Mother and daughter doing arts and crafts together at home in living roomResearch shows that girls experience a significant drop in self-esteem around puberty — often during the middle school years.  They internalize negative messages they hear from others and the media.  Messages about the ideal body type or ideal beauty can leave a girl with fractured self-esteem and an abundance of self-doubt. The damaging effects of chronic low self-esteem can surface at any time in her life, wreaking havoc with her relationships and happiness.

It’s never too early to start helping your daughter create counter-balance in her world.  This is your job as parents.  Your home should be a safe place for her to question and explore her feelings, right?  The problem is that many girls stop sharing with their parents around puberty and they engage more with friends — through social media or texting.  Oftentimes parents find themselves on the outside looking in and feeling helpless.

Here is my top ten list of ways in which parents can help to preserve their daughter’s self-esteem during the often emotionally-turbulent years of middle school and high school.

  1. Praise her efforts and accomplishments.  Everyone has a unique talent, if not many.  Many of us, me included, did not discover this until well into adulthood. Help your daughter discover her talents be they academic, sports, art, music, communication skills, or whatever it may be.  We live in a time where being athletic can be seen as the end-all, be-all — leading to a first class seat in the popular group.  If your daughter is not athletic, help her find a place/group where she feels accepted.  We all need to be a part of something.  Early on you can guide her in a positive direction.
  2. Talk about self-image.  The media and fashion industry thrive on female insecurity.  Body shame and eating disorders are at an all-time high.  Help your daughter recognize and also reject harmful messages about her body.  Encourage her to define beauty for herself.  Talk about the temptation to compare and the desire to be popular.  Help her realize her value is not in her looks.  I believe that there is great value in each person.  How do you define value?
  3. Discuss social media traps.  Teach your child to use social media with care. Remind her that people often brag on social media and they tend to put their lives in the best light.  What they are seeing may not reflect reality. Having too many friends (such as on Facebook) can easily lead to social comparison.  Great questions to ask her:  What do you notice about other people’s status updates?  How much time do you think you spend on social media and is it balanced with your other activities?  How do you want to show up on social media?  One of my teen clients recently shared with me that social media causes her so much anxiety, but she can’t stop.  In other words, she doesn’t want to miss out.  FOMO is the fear of missing out and it is a real issue for teens.  Be especially aware of Ask.fm or Instagram’s “rate me” posts.  This can be the perfect platform for bullying and dangerous rumors.  Yet at the same time they can be so tempting to girls.
  4. Give her permission to be herself.  A girl needs to feel unconditionally loved and that she is “good enough” as is. I am talking about her physical appearance as well as her emotional world.  I realize there may be concerns that you may need to deal with such as a difficult personality or possibly getting braces to help her feel good about her smile.  All of us will strive for improvement if we genuinely feel accepted the way we are.  If your daughter is having difficulty fitting in with her peers, you may want to seek counseling for further insight and advice.
  5. Nurture positive friendships.  Your daughter will experience a variety of friendships throughout her school years.  Think back to the friendships you had when you were a teen.  Some were likely positive and healthy while others were negative and hurtful.  Some lasted and some did not.  Help your daughter understand the sometimes changing-nature of friendships and to resist the urge to hold on too tightly.  Discuss what constitutes a good friend and healthy relationships.  Help her distinguish between being treated rudely and misinterpreting a situation.  Friendships that cause her pain are not necessarily negative.  Many girls tend to see relationships in black and white.  Either they are good or bad.  The reality is that there are many possible categories for friendships.  Ask her to come up with some of her own categories.  You can also ask her to reflect on what type of friend she is to others.  I often see parents who struggle in this area.

That concludes the first half of my list.  I’ll share the rest with you in my next newsletter, so be sure to watch for it in two weeks. In the meantime, I encourage you to work on the topics listed above.

If you feel that your daughter will benefit from speaking one-on-one with a counselor as she enters these uncertain teenage years — or if you would like to learn how to guide her —  please contact me via email or phone 703.505.2413 to arrange an appointment.

 


Michelle Kelley

Michelle Kelley Licensed Counselor, Owner, Girls Stand Strong

Licensed counselor and founder of Girls Stand Strong Michelle Kelley, LCSW, helps girls and women of all ages develop and improve their self-image, self-esteem, relationship and communication skills, emotional understanding, coping skills, the ability to handle difficult situations and people, and resiliency to create a brighter, better and more successful tomorrow. For more information about Michelle’s coaching and counseling services, call (703) 505-2413 or email michelle@girlsstandstrong.com.

Read What People Are Saying About Michelle Kelley.

Why Teens are Ill-Equipped to Self-Monitor Social Media for College

In this guest post, Alan Katzman explains in detail exactly why today’s teens are ill-equipped to self-monitor their social media in preparation for the college application process. (February 8, 2014)

Today’s high school students are facing unprecedented competition in pursuit of their academic interests. Although it is widely known that colleges are increasingly likely to view student social media to recruit, screen and assess qualified candidates, most students continue to engage in public social media activities intended to impress their friends rather than college officials.

What surprises many teens is discovering how far removed their social media holograph is from the person they are and how they would want others to perceive them. Why is there such a disconnect?

This discussion begins and ends with today’s currency of teen popularity:  social media likes, friends, re-posts and follows which are the driving force behind teen social media use.

When you hand your teenager a smartphone you are handing them a portal for unlimited self-exploration, discovery and expression where the audience is immediate, mostly anonymous and unbound by social protocol. As a result, today’s teens are experiencing social interactions in ways that we, as adults, can neither understand nor comprehend. Teenagers today are no different than teenagers of the past but with a smartphone in hand there are no boundaries to contain their curiosities.

The power of social media lies in its simplicity and immediacy. We produce the content and we distribute the content to our designated audiences thru self-defined social media channels. The audience for social media is generally measured in the currency of likes, followers, shares and reposts. Make no mistake, teens value how many followers they have and, in many ways, this is how teens today are measuring their popularity. Like everything else in life, it’s all about the numbers when it comes to how many likes, friends, followers and shares teens have.

The pressure many teens are facing to be funnier, racier, and more daring in order to get more followers and likes is at the heart of the problem of using social media to impress their friends.

Just ask a group of teens if any of them has ever taken down a social media post because it failed to collect their own self-defined minimum number of likes. The response will likely startle you.

Teens understand that many of the activities they are sharing online may come back to haunt them down the road but they are naturally putting off dealing with any potential consequences until a later date. It is important to remember they are living in their moment and are using social media as a way to socialize and meet people while dealing with teenage peer pressures and their need for social acceptance.

So, when it’s time to prepare for college, parents expect their teen to be able to clean and enhance their social media profiles for possible collegiate review.  Remember that we are dealing with 17 and 18 year olds with judgments that are not yet fully developed. What happens is that the pressures of the moment to continue to trump future endeavors. The knee-jerk reaction is then adopting an alias or shutting down social media during the college application process.

Unfortunately, there is no longer a safe and reliable way to simply “turn-off” one’s online presence. At best, temporarily shutting down your Facebook profile or using a fictitious name during the application process will raise suspicions that you have something to hide or at worst will prevent you from effectively differentiating yourself from others. College recruiters use social media to proactively search for qualified candidates. Students without a presence or hidden by an alias will never be found and will be missing out on critical opportunities.


Social Assurity LLC logo

Alan Katzman is the founder and managing member of Social Assurity LLC delivering personalized social media management services focusing on maximizing social media profiles to effectively stand out when colleges and employers take a look. Find more information at http://socialassurity.com/.

Critical Thinking Skills: Tools Your Daughter Needs for College

Female student being bullied by other group of studentsCritical thinking can be traced to the Socratic method of Ancient Greece.  It is a process of asking questions to trigger a deeper level of thinking and understanding. It is an important skill that everyone should develop, and should be considered a part of formal education. It is imperative that your daughter develop and strengthen her critical thinking skills to ensure that she does not make emotion-based decisions that will undermine her prospects for success in college, life, and future careers. Your daughter must also learn how to understand and skillfully navigate the emotional dynamics in social and dating relationships, so as to make wise and healthy decisions for herself and others.

Information technologies and social media enable us to communicate with others in ways that are exciting, challenging… and potentially dangerous.  Our girls are growing up in a world where a single impulsive or ill-considered posting on Facebook or Twitter can be shared instantaneously and broadly, with serious and detrimental consequences for one’s career and personal well-being. Many teenagers that I have counseled do not fully grasp the long-term and potentially harmful consequences of social media communications. They do not understand that the photos, comments and personal information that they post and share with friends online may be viewed by college admissions officers, future employers and others, thereby putting their reputations, relationships and future employment prospects at risk.

How Critical Thinking Skills Can Save a Girl’s Life 

Critical thinking skills can be life-saving. Many of today’s parents are fearful that their daughter will be tempted to drink and drive or drive and text, thereby jeopardizing her own safety and the safety of others. It’s not enough to tell your daughter not to text and drive or not to get in the car with someone who has been drinking. Today’s teenage girls need to (1) know their options, (2) practice speaking up for themselves in uncomfortable, difficult or dangerous situations, and (3) have the confidence and discernment to speak up and when necessary, remove themselves from dangerous situations.  This is where critical thinking skills can be applied.

Does your daughter know what to do if she were at a party where she felt uncomfortable due to some type of illegal, inappropriate, or harmful activity taking place? She needs to develop discernment and street smarts to deal with such situations, as well as the confidence to speak up and take appropriate action on her own behalf.

Role Playing Reinforces Critical Thinking Skills

Often times a teen girl has not learned or practiced the phrases and language that will help her speak up confidently or walk away from a potentially dangerous situation. In difficult or uncomfortable situations, your daughter may be paralyzed by feelings of guilt or confusion that impede her critical thinking capacity and ability to act wisely and confidently.  This is where role playing can help. During role playing, girls can practice speaking up for themselves and embed key phrases into her subconscious so she can better access the language she will need when the occasion calls for it.

Most teenage girls are not able to think through or anticipate all the possible short-term and long-term outcomes and consequences of her own activity or the activity of those around her. Girls often harbor unconscious emotions and fears that can easily become obstacles, keeping them from making good decisions.

These are the types of conversations and discussions that parents need to have with their daughters before they set off for college — and not just once!  When I work with teenage girls I will often do role playing to help them develop and strengthen their critical thinking skills.  Knowing what to say is not enough.  Your daughter must be able to speak up confidently in difficult situations.  This is especially important if your daughter has a people-pleaser personality type.

Next Steps: Preparing Your Daughter for the Emotional Demands of College 

  • If you haven’t already done so, initiate a conversation with your daughter about the topics discussed above.  Be casual and friendly; nothing turns a teen off more than making a big deal out of something.
  • Be a calm and supportive presence in your daughter’s life. Avoid being critical or judgmental.  You want to be the person she turns to when she needs help.
  • If your daughter already struggles with anxiety or depression, don’t assume these symptoms will go away on their own. Seek out professional and compassionate help before she leaves for college.
  • Enroll your daughter in a course or seminar that will help foster these very important tools. There are many worthwhile programs available and will be beneficial during her development into adulthood.

Even though your teenage daughter may be eager to break free of your supervision and involvement in her life, you still have an important role to play in supporting and guiding her decision making. Girls heading off to college are most likely experiencing a mixture of excitement and anxiety about what’s to come.  Whether she acknowledges it or not, she still needs your love, guidance and support. Make sure your daughter is well equipped to handle life’s difficult moments; they are meant to be speed bumps — not road blocks.

Remember, you don’t have to do all of this alone. I have been a counselor to girls and teenagers for over 20+ years. It would be my pleasure to play a part in empowering your daughter with critical-thinking skills. Reach out to me via email or phone to schedule an appointment.


Michelle Kelley

Michelle Kelley Licensed Counselor, Owner, Girls Stand Strong

Licensed counselor and founder of Girls Stand Strong Michelle Kelley, LCSW, helps girls and women of all ages develop and improve their self-image, self-esteem, relationship and communication skills, emotional understanding, coping skills, the ability to handle difficult situations and people, and resiliency to create a brighter, better and more successful tomorrow. For more information about Michelle’s coaching and counseling services, call (703) 505-2413 or email michelle@girlsstandstrong.com.

Read What People Are Saying About Michelle Kelley.

Is Your Daughter Prepared for College and Beyond… Emotionally?

Serious young college girl using tablet PC with blurred students sitting in the parkSo your daughter is heading to college this fall.  Congratulations!

For parents and high school seniors alike, this is an emotionally charged and bittersweet time.  It is a time to remember and reflect on your teenager’s personal, academic, athletic and extracurricular achievements and milestones from grade school through high school. You recently celebrated her graduation with an eye towards her emerging independence and transition into young adulthood.

This can also be a time of mourning for you, knowing you must come to grips with letting go of a beloved child in whom you have invested so much: so much time, so much hope, so much energy, so much attention, and so much worry.

You deserve to be recognized and commended for all you have done to prepare your daughter for college, and to promote and develop her self-reliance and independence. You have spent many hours together with her researching and evaluating college choices, visiting college campuses, and ensuring that college applications were completed and submitted on time.

Now that these tasks are behind you, you have yet another important role and mission as a parent:  ensuring that your daughter is emotionally prepared for college.

Emotional Intelligence:  A Critical Yet Underdeveloped Skill 

Today’s children are growing up in an incredibly fast-paced world that allows little time for introspection or the opportunity to gain self-knowledge.  Our graduating seniors appear mature, sophisticated and adult in many ways, but they have not been well-schooled in identifying, understanding and managing the emotions that govern their decision making.

In my professional experience counseling teenagers and their parents over the past 20+ years, I have observed that many outwardly-successful and accomplished high school girls are clueless when it comes to understanding and taking care of the emotional dynamics in their lives. This is troubling, because it is human nature for emotions to drive our actions and choices in life. Emotions, more than logic, often dictate the friends we choose, the people we date and marry, the way we spend our leisure and the careers we pursue.

Equally worrisome is that many parents do not know how to teach the crucial skills of emotional intelligence to their daughters.  There are many reasons why this is so:

  • Many — if not most — adults have never been educated in how to recognize and care for their own emotional needs. How can they teach a skill to their children that they have never learned or put into practice themselves? 
  • Our schools do not make emotional intelligence part of the regular curricula. Our children are encouraged and expected to excel academically and athletically, but they are not offered any regular, consistent or on-going instruction in the emotional dimensions of their lives.  They are not taught how to recognize and deal with difficult emotions, how to set boundaries to protect themselves in demanding or dangerous relationships, or how to apply critical thinking skills to social and dating relationships. 
  • Our society communicates a double standard.  We are taught to believe that displays of emotion are acceptable in women but a sign of weakness in men. How ridiculous!  The truth is that emotions are a sign of being human. Understanding, managing and learning how to communicate one’s emotions is a sign of higher intelligence, not a sign of weakness!  This is what is commonly referred to as emotional intelligence. 

How Emotional Intelligence Can Improve the Quality of Your Teenage Daughter’s Life

Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand and manage your emotional and social world. To succeed in college and in life, your daughter will need to know how to handle:

  • Disappointments
  • Break-ups
  • Academic struggles
  • Difficult social situations & difficult personality types
  • Technology traps

Possible Obstacles to Developing Emotional Intelligence 

  • Fragile self-esteem
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Loneliness
  • Insecurity

When your daughter arrives at college, she will be thrust into a maze of challenging new social situations, dating relationships, temptations, distractions and technology traps. Before sending her off into this brave new world, I encourage you to set aside time this summer to discuss and equip her with emotional intelligence skills she will need to protect her well-being and ensure her success in college and in life.

If you feel that your daughter will benefit from speaking with a counselor to develop her emotional intelligence skills – or if you would like to learn how to guide her – please contact me via email or phone 703.505.2413 to arrange an appointment.


Michelle Kelley

Michelle Kelley Licensed Counselor, Owner, Girls Stand Strong

Licensed counselor and founder of Girls Stand Strong Michelle Kelley, LCSW, helps girls and women of all ages develop and improve their self-image, self-esteem, relationship and communication skills, emotional understanding, coping skills, the ability to handle difficult situations and people, and resiliency to create a brighter, better and more successful tomorrow. For more information about Michelle’s coaching and counseling services, call (703) 505-2413 or email michelle@girlsstandstrong.com.

Read What People Are Saying About Michelle Kelley.

Self-Esteem Influences All Areas of Your Life

portrait of buoyant girlI find it interesting — yet sad — that many women and girls I work with in my counseling sessions have an expectation that their self-esteem should be higher; and if it is not, then they feel shame (a silent emotional killer for women and girls).  In our culture we have created an unrealistic standard for women – that we should be super woman and overly confident, and to admit ‘less than’ is often seen as failure.

Failure?  Failure is such a harsh word and yet it is one that women and girls often embrace too quickly.  Allowing negative, false labels to stick to you is one way to send your self-esteem spiraling downward.

Low self-esteem could mean that you have experienced (perceived or real) an emotionally traumatic situation, relationship or childhood.  There are many possible causes of low self-esteem.  You are a member of the human race, after all, and on your own path.  

It’s time to spread the message that it’s okay to embrace and admit that your self-esteem is not where you would like it to be.

Thankfully it is now widely accepted that having good physical health is important and should be actively pursued.  Yet why don’t we have the same expectation for emotional health?

For example, why is the negative stigma about counseling still hanging around?  You know the one I’m talking about “If you go to counseling then there must be something wrong with you”.  Even if you don’t feel this way, chances are that someone you are close to does.

Counseling is an opportunity to pursue a greater understanding of your emotional self and your relationships.  Isn’t that a good thing?  Of course it is!

So how do you create healthy self-esteem?  I can tell you what doesn’t work — ignoring or denying the issue.  Denial never solves anything! It’s best to dive in.  Do some research.  Go see a counselor.  Talk to your trusted friends.   Just don’t keep it a secret to fester and magnify.

See, self-esteem influences all areas of your life.  For women this means your marriage, your family and your work.  For girls this means your choices in friends, activities and academic performance.

Healthy self-esteem is an essential component of emotional well-being. 
Emotional well-being is what we should all strive for.

Our lives are more likely to flourish if we have a healthy emotional life… and self-esteem is an indicator of our emotional health.  

Sharing your healthy self-esteem with others is a wonderful gift to give them and the world.

If you would like more information on how to create healthy self-esteem or if you would like to work with me as your personal coach, please contact me via email or phone 703.505.2413. I am here to help!


Michelle Kelley

Michelle Kelley Licensed Counselor, Owner, Girls Stand Strong

Licensed counselor and founder of Girls Stand Strong Michelle Kelley, LCSW, helps girls and women of all ages develop and improve their self-image, self-esteem, relationship and communication skills, emotional understanding, coping skills, the ability to handle difficult situations and people, and resiliency to create a brighter, better and more successful tomorrow. For more information about Michelle’s coaching and counseling services, call (703) 505-2413 or email michelle@girlsstandstrong.com.

Read What People Are Saying About Michelle Kelley.

So how’s your self-esteem?

Woman studying reflectionSo how is your self-esteem?

Answering this question feels almost too personal – as if you were being asked your age or weight or about the most embarrassing moment in your life.  Right now your self-esteem could be high, low, fragile or something in between and it might not be something you want to say out loud.

I define self-esteem as the way you feel about yourself combined with your capability to think clearly, make good decisions and create a rewarding life. 

No one has 100% self-esteem all of the time.  Self-esteem is not ‘all or nothing’.  The truth is that it exists on a continuum and it can (and often does) change throughout your life.  However, it should be something that you are aware of, connected to and actively track so you can make adjustments as needed.

Self-esteem is often misunderstood.  Many mistake arrogance and over-confidence for self-esteem.  In reality, an attitude of superiority and exaggerated self-esteem are actually masking low self-esteem.  Healthy, authentic self-esteem is never ego based.  A person with healthy self-esteem never feels the need to brag or make themselves look better than someone else.  Healthy self-esteem (which is what we all should be striving for) is empowering and it is within your reach. 

In order to gain some insight about your self-esteem, listen closely to your self-talk — your internal dialogue.  Is it negative or positive?

  • I’m so tired today; I don’t feel like doing anything. OR Gosh, I’m tired but I know that once I get moving I will feel better.
  • I don’t like going into a room full of people and having to speak to total strangers. OR  I’m uncomfortable entering a room of people I don’t know yet, but I know I will meet two or three people and end up really enjoying myself; I always do!
  • My cup of tea has too much; I hope I don’t spill it! OR  My cup of tea is filled to the rim so I will be careful with it.

If your thoughts tend to be negative, then this is definitely affecting your self-esteem in a harmful way.  And yes, it is possible to change your thinking.  It requires awareness, persistence and a desire to change.

I teach women and girls how to create healthy self-esteem in their lives and how to foster it in their children.  It’s not something you are born with.  It is something you create.

If you would like more information on how to create healthy self-esteem or if you would like to work with me as your personal coach, please contact me via email or phone 703.505.2413. I am here to help!


Michelle Kelley

Michelle Kelley Licensed Counselor, Owner, Girls Stand Strong

Licensed counselor and founder of Girls Stand Strong Michelle Kelley, LCSW, helps girls and women of all ages develop and improve their self-image, self-esteem, relationship and communication skills, emotional understanding, coping skills, the ability to handle difficult situations and people, and resiliency to create a brighter, better and more successful tomorrow. For more information about Michelle’s coaching and counseling services, call (703) 505-2413 or email michelle@girlsstandstrong.com.

Read What People Are Saying About Michelle Kelley.

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Testimonials

I just wanted to say THANK YOU. I left your office so inspired today.
...
AnnaMay
To say Michelle changed our lives would not be an exaggeration. She was very empathetic and non-judgmental... She didn't make our daughter feel badly... She didn't make my husband and myself feel like incompetent parents.
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Linda
I definitely owe my newfound confidence to Michelle. Without her, I don’t know how I would’ve been able to come out of my horrible situation as such a better version of myself.
...
Grace
People don't understand Michelle doesn’t just offer advice… which they seem to be afraid of hearing. I convey the message that the decisions you make are ultimately your own but Michelle will help you find clarity and sort through emotions.
...
Chris
We felt comfortable knowing that Michelle would be the kind of counselor that would help our daughter see the good in herself, but also question some of her choices and actions.
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Patricia
You have brought back the communication ability that I thought that I lost. You helped her understand what we were feeling and she is such a better person for seeing you.
...
Maggie
Michelle, you are so right about [my daughter] and how she thrives off of feelings of accomplishment. All seems to be good now. She amazes me every day with the way she is learning to handle tough situations.
...
Cynthia
With Michelle’s guidance, I was able to accomplish in approximately 8 months what I hadn’t been able to over the past 15 years.
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Elizabeth
I am forever grateful for Michelle's help.
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Anne
Thank you, Michelle, for giving me my voice and a new lease on life.
...
Nancy
Retired Arlington County Teacher
She helped me focus my attention toward problem-solving issues.
...
Laura Clancy, Owner
MuffinToppled® Fitness Coaching
Michelle is the best life coach I ever had.
...
Marina
Michelle is an excellent listener and her insights and advice were always right on target.
...
Ann
(mother of a teen girl)
She helped me in so many ways!
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Kelly
Michelle Kelly saved my life. What more can I say?
...
Stephanie W.

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