Research conducted on large groups of children has found differences between boys and girls that influence resilience. Resilience includes overcoming adversity to become among traits confident, independent, responsible and successful. A lot of the research focuses on preventing delinquency but I believe the information can be used for our purposes to help our girls become resilient and strong. Here is an example of the research: https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/ojjdp/220124.pdf.
What We Know
1. are more influenced by past or present failure rather than past or present success.
2. attribute failure to intrinsic factors and success to extrinsic. In other words, failure is their fault but success is attributing to other peoples actions, not theirs.
3. girls blame themselves more than boys
4. girls take less credit for successes
We also know that there are four important protective factors summarized in the research. These are factors that promote resiliency in girls.
1. A caring adult
2. School connectedness
3. School success
4. Religiousity or Faith
What We Can Do
Create Strong Relationships
This includes creating a connection or relationships with adults, kids and groups. For some this might be the long distance relationships formed by the summer institutes. It is how we foster and maintain those relationships after the time together that can maintain the connection and strengthen a child’s self-worth. P
Provide Specific Examples of Your Strengths and Your Mistakes
It is important for our girls to see others who are strong and independent and unique. It is also important for them to see others make mistakes, fail and overcome adversity. This allows them to know it is OK to make mistakes and even fail. More importantly, it gives them examples of how to thrive in adversity. So, tell them stories of your struggles, your mistakes and failures. Point them out as they happen. Even little things like forgetting your lunch or keys or running late can let them know that not everything or everybody is perfect.
Allow your daughters to voice their opinions
Seek your daughter’s opinion and help her learn to support her opinion with feelings, or facts. However, make sure you express the other side of the story so she sees others points of view and learns to incorporate other views or debate against the pother view. Make sure she knows it is OK to disagree with someone.
Teach your daughter to make decisions
Teach your daughter to make informed decisions and allow her to do it early. Talk about weighing the pros and cons of decisions and the consequences of each one. Also discuss how some decisions come with difficult consequences but are still important. Use Malala as an example. The consequences of her decision to go to school were dangerous, almost deadly. She still sticks to her decision.
Listen to your daughters and foster communication. Validate her feelings and reflect. How do you feel when you are upset and someone responds with “it will be OK”? At that moment it is not OK! And we are not usually ready to hear solutions. When your daughter is upset just allow her feelings to be expressed. When calm discuss solutions.
Gradually increase your daughter’s responsibilities and independence. Slowly foster competency and independence. Our job as parents is to produce a fully functioning, independent adult. If we solve every problem for a child, they will not learn to solve them independently. Let kids fail at small tasks so they learn that mistakes are OK and they have a chance to fix their mistake. Allow a child to walk to school independently or go get the milk in the other isle at the store. Of course, you will only do this when you know your child is safe, ready for this level of independence and you can closely monitor the situation. Build on the child’s successes and allow more independence each time.
Do not save your daughter when she makes a mistake. Maybe it is OK to bring the forgotten homework to school the first time it happens but then discuss a plan and system so it will not happen again. If it happens again, do not save her. School is a safe place and learning to deal with mistakes or failure there is good practice for the future in places that are not so safe. These small actions teach her to deal with adversity, to persevere, and teach problem solving and flexibility.
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