She is 3 and can conquer the world! She’s 5 and already a confident reader. She’s 7 and skiing super fast down the slopes. Then at 9 she looks herself in the mirror and can no longer see the champion she set out to be.
Somewhere between pre-primary and secondary, with new bodies and developing minds and their relationships with friends and family in limbo, her self-esteem can quickly go downhill. There are social pressures, greater expectations at home and in the classroom as well as mixed signals from society that can cause girls to lose their spark.
And they start to question; Am I someone who can make things happen and who is worthy of love?
And it’s not only parents and teachers who can make a difference to support young girls. The commercial industry, with a strong messaging also influence young minds. We should expect that they realise a social responsibility, to tone down gender differences and value achievements rather than looks. Not to put girls on any pedestal, but to give them the same opportunities. So they can not only feel good about themselves but also realise their potential and become content and happy adults.
Most tweens and teens will get through the challenges with adequate time and support. The following poem was handed to Little A by her teacher. She keeps it on her bedside table, finding comfort and strength in the words.
You are the child that cannot fail
Your words are thunder, wind and rain
Your force is more than loss or pain
You are the child of fearless gales
Some knocks and bruises cannot heart
The onwards rolling through your time
Things may get hard, but you’ll be fine
You are the child of endless worth
With books, love and true found friends
You’ll be the best that you can be
It’s all inside you – in truth you’ll see
A joyful thought without end
Bold, free and never the same
You are the child with beautiful name
by Mr. Williams.
I don’t often share my thoughts about parenting. I know no better than anyone else. I’m just a mum, trying to navigate my two tween daughters into a secure and happy life.
Image © Little Scandinavian. Little A painted by Annika Sylte.