Self-esteem challenges for girls

JoAnn Deak, PhD Psychologist and Author, explains why there is a dramatic drop in the self-esteem in girls during adolescents, and offers advice for parents on how they can help to build self-confidence in their daughters
Parenting Tips | The Challenges Of Building Self-Esteem In Tween And Teen Girls
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Self-esteem challenges for girls

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For the past 30 years I've been studying self-esteem. It is something that I talk a lot about with parents. We see rather significant difference in self-esteem between boys and girls. Between the ages of 10 and 18, we see a dramatic drop in the self-esteem in girls. We see a smidgeon of a drop in self-esteem in boys. That is statistical. It isn't for everybody. If this is the level of self-esteem, when you are a girl, it goes like this; for boys, it goes like this. The question is: Why? That's a very complicated question, but I go back to saying that risk taking is highly correlated to self-esteem. During adolescence, because of neurobiology, because of society, because of so many things; girls are hesitant to take risks during that time. They are much more prone to worry and think about what other people thing. Those are two things that knock self-esteem down. One of the things I say to parent is that during adolescence, it is very important to have your girls doing some things that are hard or a bit scary. If they are afraid of mountain climbing, maybe you ought to take them on some foothills. If they don't want to stand up in front of a group and talk, maybe you should have them take some voice training lessons or join a theater group. Anything to pull away from worrying about what other people think or not being able to face what bothers you. We call it "hug the monster," in the field. One of my favorite sayings from one of my favorite role models, Eleanor Roosevelt, who says, "You must do the hard thing."

JoAnn Deak, PhD Psychologist and Author, explains why there is a dramatic drop in the self-esteem in girls during adolescents, and offers advice for parents on how they can help to build self-confidence in their daughters

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JoAnn Deak, PhD

Psychologist & Author

JoAnn Deak, PhD, has spent more than 30 years as an educator and psychologist, helping children develop into confident and competent adults. The latter half of that period has also focused on working with adults, parents and teachers in their roles as guides or ‘neurosculptors’ of children. On her website is a quote that best describes her perspective on her work: “every interaction a child has, during the course of a day, influences the adult that child will become.”

Parents and educators at schools from New York to Hawaii, as well as such organizations as the National Association of School Psychologists, the National Association of Independent Schools, the Association of International Schools, the American Montessori Society and the International Baccalaureate Association, have heralded Dr. Deak’s ability to demystify complex issues of child development, learning, identify formation and brain research.

Dr. Deak has been an advisor to Outward Bound, a past chair of the National Committee for Girls and Women in Independent Schools, on the advisory board for the Center on Research for Girls (Laurel School), for the Seattle Girls’ School, Bromley Brook School, the Red Oak School, Power Play and GOAL. She consults with organizations and schools across the United States. Most recently, she has worked internationally with schools, organizations, associations and parent groups in every continent (except Antarctica!) She has been awarded the Woman of Achievement Award by the National Coalition of Girls’ Schools, was given the first Female Educator of the Year Award by Orchard House School, and the Outstanding Partner for Girls Award from Clemson University. She has been named the Visiting Scholar in New Zealand, the Visiting Scholar for Montessori Children’s House and has been the Resident Scholar for the Gardner Carney Leadership Institute in Colorado Springs for the past five years.

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