Hey all you FPgirl parents! Want to keep up with the latest conversations and posts about tweens? Be sure to follow us over at our blog’s new location! We’ve still got all the same great stuff you’ve come to expect from us, plus we’re expanding our discussions so you’ll find even more helpful tips and insights about raising tween girls. Stop by soon to let us know what’s on your mind and what’s up with your FPgirl!
For young girls, being creative is a chance to express themselves. Whether it be artistically, fashionably, dramatically, emotionally, physically or verbally, it’s a chance for a girl to show others who they are. Through dancing, art, sports, drama, music or fashion a young girl can define herself through creativity. She’s not just another girl. She’s creative, and that matters. It matters because it helps to build her self-esteem. A high self-esteem will boost her confidence, so in part, being creative is a confidence builder.
At FPgirl, we love the fact that our one-million-plus members are creative. Members thrive on designing, sharing their thoughts on how the world works, how it should work, what they like about fashion trends (and what they don’t like!), how they feel about their role models, what stirs them, what makes them happy, what makes them feel the way they feel about the world in which they live. They are individuals with creative minds who are the next generation; these are the girls who are going to be the future role models in our society.
FPgirl is a thriving community of the next generation of girls who are exploring their creativity, taking their thoughts and dreams to the next level and beyond, pushing their limits to see just how creative they can be, and these girls know no limits. Through FPgirl, they’ve realized their potential, made friends, created beautiful designs to be proud of, been inspired by their peers and offered valuable input on the things that matter in their world. What can be more creative than that for a young girl?
Photo credit: Vasare Nar
- By Debra Gano, Publisher & Founding Editor of BYOU Magazine
It can often feel like the entire world is moving 100 miles per hour (or faster via the internet), and finding time to really connect with our daughters can be challenging. Schedules for moms and tweens are packed with jobs, school, homework, household management, every extracurricular activity under the sun, and the multitude of things we manage day to day. I can relate; as a single mom of an 11-year-old girl running a national self-esteem publication for girls, my schedule is jam-packed. It’s no wonder I don’t forget to breathe sometimes! But regardless of how much is on my plate, taking time for a heart-to-heart chat with my daughter when she needs it always immediately moves to the top of the priority list.
One of the true pleasures of my job is facilitating mother/daughter workshops. An exercise we do is to create a safe environment where girls reveal their true inner feelings to their moms, disclosing the harsh critical thoughts they have about themselves. Time and time again, mothers are shocked to realize that their seemingly confident little girl has been verbally beating herself up on a daily basis. Let’s face it; we all know it’s a brutal world out there for girls today. Unrealistic standards of beauty, unhealthy media messages, and cruel judgmental peers are eroding the very essence of our daughters—yet it’s not right in front of our eyes. Generally it happens silently in the dark crevices of their hearts and minds with their own critical self-talk.
As I’ve witnessed in our workshops, there is a huge sense of relief both from girls and moms when these voices are exposed for the false truths they are. The transition from childhood to adulthood is confusing for girls, and without support, girls dim their own “Heartlight” (as I like to call it), losing the sparkle that makes them shine who they truly are. By understanding what’s going on in their heads, we can help them navigate this vulnerable tween age, steering them away from self-depreciating negativity into a stronger and more encouraging sense of self-worth.
Here are five negative statements many girls consistently tell themselves (that parents may not be aware of) and how to assure their words are more positive:
1. I’m ugly – This comes in many variations of self-deprecation from I’m fat, I hate my hair, I’m too skinny, and so on. Unfortunately with the amount of media our girls are exposed to in today’s modern world, it’s impossible to shelter them from the unrealistic standards of beauty or the over-sexualization of women. Our daughters are being programmed that they must look “hot,” even as young as 5 or 6. Our job is to remind them that images are often altered and nobody is “perfect.” Spend time with her at a busy airport noticing how different real people are, pointing out things that make each one beautiful in their own way. Then encourage her to focus on things about herself that make her uniquely beautiful.
2. I’m not good enough – This includes all areas of skill: I can’t play sports, I can’t draw, I can’t sing, etc. In a world of extracurricular mania, girls feel they have to “do it all”—but not just do it, but do it well. Our girls are conditioned to not just compete with themselves, but with the best in every area, often on a worldwide scale. It’s tough to compete at that level for anyone, let alone a developing young girl. Healthy self-esteem is created not only in success, but in realizing that failure is a part of the experience and then moving forward by acknowledging even the slightest gain. Encourage her to focus on what she does well, and remind her it’s okay to try new things just for the fun of it, without having to be the best. And take a look at how hard you’re pushing your daughter—is it your insecurity that wants her to be the best?
3. I’m dumb – This is the one that surprised me when my daughter opened up at a workshop and admitted she tells herself this daily. And it surprisingly shows up a lot with other girls as well, not because they are not smart or capable, but because of a subject or two they are weak in and thus generalize and categorize themselves as “dumb.” My daughter excels in the creative subjects, yet classes like math are challenging for her, and her tween brain wants to ruminate on the fact that other kids do it better than her. I remind her that we all have areas that come easy for us, as well as things that don’t which require a bit of extra effort. Redirecting her to acknowledge her strengths gives her the confidence to tackle the more challenging areas – even math.
4. What my mom says about me isn’t true - A girl will often dismiss a compliment because “your mom is supposed to say that” (this also includes dads, grandmas, siblings, and BFFs). Reality shows and sitcoms teach us to rely on sarcasm for comedy, challenging a girl to wonder if what is being said is true or not. Make your comments to your daughter authentic and meaningful by not always just pointing out the obvious, but noticing little things to reinforce her confidence and to let her know you truly are sincere. When we’re rushed or tired, it’s tempting to mumble an obligatory “that’s nice,” but kids are smart. And trust me, she’s also noticing your self-deprecating comments…how can she believe you when you tell her she isn’t fat when she hears you tell yourself that all the time?
5. Nobody likes me/I can’t make friends - This one is usually the most surprising to moms because we see our daughters in a safe environment (like our homes) with siblings or a BFF and she seems so carefree and self-assured. The girl we don’t see is the uncomfortable one in environments where she does not rule the roost or have us standing a comfortable distance away. This is where girls develop the self-doubting talk that they are not cool enough, popular enough, or whatever enough to be what she thinks peers or society expects her to be, using absolutes like “everyone hates me.” Remind her of the many people that do like/love her and that it’s impossible to be liked by everyone—and that she should never change who she is just to be liked. By building her self-esteem and belief in herself, she’ll come to realize it’s better to have a few good friends who like her for who she is rather than have a lot of people who like her for who she’s not.
Just like it can be hard for us to admit that we are not quite as “together” as we appear, our girls are competing in a significantly larger and more exposed arena than we did growing up and will often go to great lengths to hide who they truly are. It’s up to us to provide them the safety and security so they open up and admit they have self-doubting thoughts and then work with them to dispel their self-created demons. I encourage you to seek resources and support groups, both for yourself and your daughter, that help build self-esteem and offer positive messages. While we cannot stop the unhealthy media girls are subjected to everyday, we can offer them healthy options that reinforce their belief in themselves and inspire them to just “be you!”
Debra Gano is the publisher & founding editor of BYOU “Be Your Own You” Magazine for girls ages 8-14 and best-selling author of the award-winning book, Beauty’s Secret: A Girl’s Discovery of Inner Beauty, Heartlight Girls Series Book One. She speaks as a national expert on self-esteem, anti-bullying, inner beauty, empowerment, and positive parenting. For more information about ordering a BYOU Magazine subscription for your daughter or her school, Debra’s book, or bringing her to speak at your next event, please visit www.BYOUmagazine.com.
(Photo credit: Cindy Quick)
While tween girls might feel left out during this romantic boy/girl holiday, with its chocolate hearts, flowers, bow-wielding Cupids, and gifts being exchanged, you can still make your daughter feel extra special during this LOVE holiday. During Valentine’s it’s understandable that tweens might feel sad and lonely, and also a bit moody. She might be drawn into the hype that is Valentine’s Day, as most of us are!
There are ways to make your tween feel loved, cherished and special, because obviously, she is, and there will be many years ahead of her for a boy to take over that Valentine’s role. For now, show her that she’s your perfect little Valentine with these unique and easy ideas throughout the day on February 14!
- Wake her up with heart-shaped pancakes for breakfast. Red heart-shaped strawberries complete the theme and show her the love you have for her. If you really want to go all out, serve her breakfast in bed, complete with a vase and a pink rose. Wouldn’t you have LOVED to receive a gift like this when you were a little girl?
- Surprise her with a unique gift before she leaves for school. Whether it’s a cute T-shirt with a bedazzled heart emblazoned on the front, a simple LOVE bracelet, a pair of Valentine socks or even a cute set of new red barrettes, she’ll feel extra loved heading to school in the morning.
- When you pack her lunch, cut her sandwich into a heart shape. Leave her a love note in her lunchbox and if you’ve got something special planned for the evening, hint to that event in your note. Place a few Hershey’s kisses in with her lunch too!
- While she’s at school, cut out a bunch of pastel-colored hearts from construction paper (like the colors of the candy conversation hearts!) and tape them up all over her bedroom. Write things on them like I LUV YOU, UR COOL, CUTIE, MY GIRL, HUG ME, BE MINE and I’M YOURS. My guess is she’ll never take them down from her walls. You can include a bowl of real candy hearts in her room too!
- After school, present her with a small gift. It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate or expensive. Maybe you can design a personalized Valentine for her telling her how much she means to you, and give her some chocolate, because what tween doesn’t love chocolate? Or, present her with a small stuffed puppy with an amazon gift card attached. You could even make brownies or cookies – treats are always a special gift!
- Finally, make her favorite meal, or invite her to cook something together you both like to make. If it’s in the budget, let her choose her favorite restaurant for dinner. Just being together surrounded by your favorite foods, laughing and reminiscing about the day’s events is a special way to end the evening.
Of course, you don’t have to gift your daughter with anything, but the smile on her face and the joy you’ll feel after you do some of these things for her will be worth the effort you put into making her day great. You’ll both remember how you made one of her tween Valentine’s Days so special!
About the Author:
Stephanie Elliot, in no particular order, is a wife, writer, blogger, book reviewer, editor and mother to three kids, two who have already been tweens, and one who is right smack in the middle of his tween-ness. Her oldest son is almost driving and her daughter survived her tween years so Stephanie must be doing something right. Find out more at http://stephanieelliot.com