Helping Girls Through a Journey of Self-Discovery
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By Katie Chwalik – PR & Brand Specialist for the Girl Scouts of Southeast Florida
It Starts With You: Parents, Daughters, and a Future
Have you talked to your daughter lately? How is she doing? The parent-daughter relationship is so important for helping girls develop the values and characteristics that will guide them through life. How can you help support your daughter and help her be successful in such an ever-changing world?
Using surveys and information from the U.S. Census Bureau, the National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH), and the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), Girl Scouts of the USA broke down information on the health and wellness of girls here in Florida. Here are just a few of those statistics:
In 2007, Florida ranked 36 among the states for girls’ well-being—in 2017, Florida has dropped down to 39
26 percent of girls ages 12-17 are not involved in any community service or volunteer work – this number is 42 percent higher than the national average and has increased by 30 percent since 2007
The number of girls ages 6-17 participating in organized activities has decreased 6 percent since 2007
While these numbers are worrying, the most important thing to remember is that “data” does not mean “destiny.” Parents can help their daughters develop skills and abilities that will help them succeed in life. According to research, these skills and abilities include:
Sense of self
Willingness to seek challenges
Community problem solving
Foster a “Team Player” attitude right at home
Team sports and activities are great ways to help your daughter work with others her age, but a team environment can start in your own home. Assigning basic chores and responsibilities, whether they are daily, weekly, or monthly, will help her feel like she’s contributing to something bigger. “Your family is the first team your girl will ever belong to,” says Girl Scouts’ Developmental Psychologist Andrea Bastiani Archibald, Ph.D. “Chores can help her recognize and appreciate her role and value within the family unit—especially if you start her out on chores when she’s young.” It’s never too late to teach accountability and teamwork at home.
Eventually, she’ll want more freedom. Use this opportunity to discuss the things she wants: maybe it’s going to a concert with friends, or even one day using the car. Stress to her the importance of completing her chores around the house, and that family is relying on her to do her share. That way, you can show her she needs to demonstrate responsibility first.
Encourage Independence and Individuality
Equally important as being a team-player is helping her learn to function on her own. Children who are able to practice independence do better in school, are less likely to give into peer pressure when they know something isn’t right, have brighter careers, and generally know how to take care of themselves in a healthy, happy way. “The truth is, though, that by giving her age-appropriate levels of independence and freedom, she’ll have a better chance of developing into a young woman who can stand on her own two feet and really succeed in whatever career or lifestyle she chooses,” says Dr. Archibald.
No matter what age your girl is, there are plenty of simple things you can offer her that will help boost her confidence little by little. Whether it’s letting her pack her own lunch, leaving her at home while you run an errand, or letting her negotiate reasons for extending her curfew, there are plenty of ways girls can earn more freedom at any stage of adolescence.
Help her discover her passions
Being part of a soccer team, having a role in the school play, displaying a painting in an art contest: any of these experiences can help a girl’s confidence and ambition take off when it comes to other parts of her life, like school and her future career. Make sure she has a say in what she participates in, that way she gains some autonomy and the ability to express herself. According to Dr. Archibald, “Of course it might be disappointing if you loved ballet or piano as a child and your daughter isn’t into it, but it’s important to recognize and value her unique personality and interests.”
Encourage her to try new things and ask her questions. What is it she loves about her new activity? Also keep an eye out if her enthusiasm wavers, and talk to her coach or leader. Is there anything you can do to help? The best part about getting involved in after-school programs is the journey you and your daughter get to go on discovering new things together.
Helping your daughter discover who she is and what she’s capable of early on will help her flourish in life. Take some time to talk to her, find out what she’s interested in, and help her find her shine.
Author: Katie Chwalik is a former educator in St. Lucie and Palm Beach counties and a PR & Brand Specialist for the Girl Scouts of Southeast Florida. For more information on how you or your daughter can get involved with Girl Scouts of Southeast Florida, visit www.gssef.org
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