Today I wanted to talk to you all about something that is so close to my heart and important for young girls.
First off, do you all remember that book Men are From Mars and Women are from Venus? It wasn't that long ago when I actually did a thesis paper on that book in college. Now don't get me wrong, I'm all for equal rights and girls can do anything boys can do, but when it comes to our physiological make up we are just wired differently. Failure is something we need to learn from and use as a stepping stone towards success. After all, the greatest minds and inventors did not get where they are today without experiencing many setbacks along the way.
Girls experience failure differently than boys. They view failure as a shortcoming or lack of ability and that often prevents them from trying again. Like all things, this is a generalization and not necessarily the case with every girl but what I have witnessed out of my own little darling is when she can't do something she tends to take it too personal. Add her massive need for perfection and it can sometimes be disastrous!
Looking back now, I can relate to my daughter and many other girls. I never handled failure very well, at least internally. The negative talk that teenagers give themselves was something I fell victim to and started assuming anything I set out to undertake would be a failure all the same. Although I've really managed to change my outlook today, this perception leaked into my early and mid 20's and is something that still creeps into my mind set occasionally.
That being said, I'm often clueless as to how to prevent this from becoming a serious issue down the line for my little girls. So I did a little further digging and through some of my own methods I've come up with some ideas you can incorporate to help your daughters deal with failure better.
Teach them that there is more than one way and one answer.
Encourage them to think outside of the box with problem solving and understand that there is more than one way to accomplish the same goal. There are a ton of games and toys out there that can help accomplish this. I love building blocks and legos. Have them create a house or a castle with just their imagination and follow along side of them and create your own version.
Encourage curiosity and the million questions
When they get to that age, where it seems like everything is an interrogation or an interview, let them ask the questions. Put down your phone and spend some time with her and ignite that curiosity. Turn the questions around on her and ask her what she thinks. You will be amazed at what she comes up with!
Encourage and help facilitate creative and imaginative play.
When our little girls often play pretend through role playing it helps them overcome obstacles without them even realizing through a safe and fun environment. My little girls love to play in their kitchen and often create a pretend restaurant. Sometimes they will bring out a dish that is not so good and I ask the chef to make me something else..lol
Let them be!
Try not to over correct and let them make mistakes from the very beginning. I know it's often hard and tests our patience when they are just starting to learn a new skill and we are so pulled to do it for them. Or, when we're rushing out the door and we just need them to put on their shoes and not take 10 minutes to practice tying them. It starts with those moments and I can a test that myself is not always patient.
Reward the Effort and the Finished Product.
It's just as important to award the effort they put into all they do. No, I'm not talking about a participation trophy. Participation and effort are two different things. Also, encourage them to finish what they start even if it's not exactly their best work. Finishing what they set out to do will be a major skill they will need all throughout their life.
Allow Her to figure out who She is
...and not who WE want her to be. I struggle with this so much being the control freak that I am. We start envisioning plans for our children and forget that they are their own person and need to figure stuff out for themselves. Over this past summer we were searching through the park district catalog to look for a program for my oldest daughter. We came across cheerleading and I was kinda surprised that they started the girls at 6 years old! Anyways, my daughter got super excited and my husband immediately put the kibosh on the idea. You see, he has this idea in his head about cheerleaders... not that it's at all true, so don't get all bent out of shape if your daughter is a cheerleader. In fact, I convinced him that it wasn't about us and it would be fine. Low and behold, our shy and reserved daughter gained a ton of self confidence and learned how to project her voice with that program! She finished off the cheer camp and decided that it wasn't for her but the point is she tried something new and wasn't afraid to take a chance and because of that she was able to challenge herself and grow! Let them figure out what they are meant to do by trying new things!
Here is a fun video of what happens when you give the girls a video recorder.... Excuse the mess in the background, that's their "play area". Don't judge me.. no judging!
Show by example
Yes, that means you. Show them that you make mistakes and that it's okay. This is hard! Admitting when we are wrong, especially to our kids, seems like we might loose respect but that really isn't the case. It actually shows them that we are human and more relatable.
And there you have it! Those are my tips on how we can teach our girls to embrace and learn from their failures. I'm excited to get this years Girl Scouts troop started and we'll soon have our first meeting. I can't wait to share with you all the exciting things I have in store for them this year!