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1-Minute Read: Tips for Getting Girls “Emotionally” Ready for School

1 Minute Read Tips for Getting Girls Emotionally Ready for SchoolIt’s that time again! Depending on where you live, the new school year may have just begun or it will be soon. Help your daughter feel ready for school – emotionally – so she can start the year with a sense of confidence and self-awareness.

7 Tips for Getting Girls “Emotionally” Ready for School

1. Ask her how she feels about school starting. Remember that open-ended questions get longer answers.

2. Listen to her. No really, LISTEN to what she says.

•Give it a few minutes before you respond… or don’t respond (that day).
•You will likely need time to process her response.
•It is your job to weed through the “important” answers from the “unimportant” ones.
•Part of what is so helpful to a girl is to hear herself verbalize her feelings.
•Remember, ultimately it will be her job to understand herself, her emotions and her choices.

3. Ask another open-ended question such as “Is there anything that feels scary or yucky about going back to school?” Depending on her age, you get the idea. Keep probing – gently.

4. Validate her feelings. This is VERY, VERY important. Her feelings are never wrong. They just are!

5. Don’t criticize, laugh or minimize her feelings (even if they seem silly to you) as they are likely pretty important to her. If she feels mocked, she will make a mental note to not share with you anymore. You don’t want this to happen.

6. Ask her if there is anything you can do to help her. She might have a suggestion such as being able to go and visit the school before it starts (especially if she is going to a new school). As girls move to middle school and high school, many can feel intimidated by the size of the school and being with so many upper classmates.

7. Keep the conversation going. Circle back to some of the above after a few days to see if anything new has come to her after she’s had an opportunity to think about your questions.

If you hear anything that you find concerning, please feel free to reach out to me. I can help to validate whether or not the issue needs something other than a loving parent’s support.

Whether this is a happy time for you or a sad one, I wish you well on this year’s school journey.

 


 

Michelle Kelley 10.14 c

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.

1-Minute Read: Why Girls Have More Anxiety Than Boys

1-Minute Read- Why girls have more anxiety than boysConsider this as one reason why girls have more anxiety than boys… girls use social media in different (and more harmful) ways than boys.

Girls tend to post more pictures of themselves (usually looking cute). Boys tend to post more pictures of themselves doing something (or achieving something). If a girl does not get many “likes” for a photo of herself, she is likely to dwell and internalize the meaning (i.e. no one thinks she is pretty). If a boy does not get many “likes” for a picture of him receiving a medal/award, it doesn’t matter so much because he already got his recognition.

Girls tend to seek more external validation for their self-worth and physical appearance. Boys seem to have more internal validation. As a girl reaches adolescence she is likely to be less happy with her body. The opposite is true for boys.

When girls turn to social media for validation, their self-esteem is at risk.

Fragile self-esteem, an excessive need for external validation, and too much screen-time equal more anxiety for girls.

This is something to be aware of as you raise your daughter in this very challenging time in history. I have not finished raising my daughters (do we ever?) so I am on this road with you. Let’s support each other by keeping the conversation alive.

Here’s to raising strong, resilient daughters.

 


 

Michelle Kelley 10.14 c

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.

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.

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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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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.
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