Have you heard about the confidence gap that affects tween girls? It’s a real concern, as studies show that girls’ confidence drops by a whopping 30% between the ages of eight and 14, while boys’ confidence actually increases by 27%. I saw this with my very own eyes with my daughter’s confidence right on cue age 8 and I had to work really hard to bring her confidence levels back up again. As parents and guardians, it’s our responsibility to raise our daughters to be confident, happy, and secure individuals.
To delve into this topic, we had the pleasure of speaking with child psychiatrist Dr. Ruth Talbot and Laura Curtis, the founder of Questa Kids and hosts of the Let’s Talk Parenting podcast. Together, they shared invaluable insights on how parents can combat what’s been labeled the “confidence gap” between the sexes.
How to spot it
Said Dr Ruth: “ The first thing is to spot when your daughter is losing their confidence which starts at around eight years old. Your daughter’s confidence gap will present as a change in her behaviour, such as a reluctance to try new things, make new friends or speak up in class. This can lead to overthinking, people pleasing and the start of a toxic mindset.
“The positive is that you can do something about it. There are strategies and techniques that can help your girl get her spirit back.”
Why does it happen?
There are both biological and social reasons why the confidence gap happens as Dr Ruth explains: “Girls have their growth spurt earlier than boys. For girls, growth happens at in the early stages of puberty whereas, it’s towards the end for boys. Just at the time girls may be feeling more self-conscious and aware of what others think of them, their body changes in ways which are obvious and are often commented on.
“So many girls in the early stages of puberty say, ‘it’s too soon’, feeling their growing up as a loss. Being there to listen, reassure and explain is also vital!”
Societal research also found that more than half of ‘tween’ girls feel stressed and the need to be perfect.
Providing an alternative view of girls and female role models is one way to redress this and one that it is being adopted by many organisations.
Said Questa Kids founder Laura: “Our own independent research found that 94 percent of UK parents want their children to learn more about the achievements of women, so there is an obvious concern and awareness that more needs to be done to redress the balance in education.”
Risk, fail and recovery strategy
Another way to combat your daughter’s confidence gap is what’s called the ‘risk, fail and recovery’ approach to demonstrate the idea that there is no failing or getting things wrong and each time something doesn’t go as we wish, it’s an opportunity to learn.
Said Dr Ruth: “We can model this by owning our own mistakes – it’s OK to get things wrong and admit it, more than that, things not going to plan is how we learn. We need to reassure our children that learning is about having a go and using what happens to help us learn more about how to improve.”
Be positive about being a girl
Challenging behaviour is not something girls get gold stars for, but as parents or guardians it’s something that should be encouraged when it comes gender roles.
One simple question to ask daughters is if they think there is anything that they can’t do that boys can. This simple question has had some very worrying responses when used by researchers and is a good way to assess how your daughter feels about being a girl. You can help her to challenge and explore conventions that may be restricting her and knocking her confidence.
“We created Questa Kids as an educational game that openly redresses the sexism girls are bombarded with in other aspects of their life. It’s based on the latest in educational thinking, including the 7Cs including confidence, collaboration and curiosity , which engages with guilt-free screen time, combining effective learning with soft skills. It’s designed to encourage and engage curious minds, providing a more balanced and positive view of the world for girls,” added Laura.
Why it’s important to address your daughter’s confidence gap
The loss of confidence in girls who mature into women can stay with them and hold them back from realising their true potential or on a more fundamental level, being happy.
Said Dr Ruth: “For some girls this drop in confidence can herald more serious issues such as a drastic loss of self-esteem, withdrawal, anxiety, disturbed sleep pattern (including sleeping a lot and always feeling tired), change in mood and even depression.”
Questa Kids is curriculum compliant (KS1 and 2) and uses a pedagogical method that combines a mixture of approaches, including the 7Cs, which emphasise both effective learning and soft skills development, while ensuring that the child’s experience remains at its heart. Use code REALDEAL to get 25% off as a new customer.
Now the duo have launched a free 10-step guide to combat the confidence gap, available on www.questakids.com.
In conclusion, nurturing your daughter’s confidence is a vital aspect of her overall development. By implementing these strategies and embracing a supportive role as a parent or guardian, you can make a lasting impact on her self-belief and resilience.
Remember, spotting the signs of diminishing confidence, such as changes in behavior, is the first step. From there, you can employ techniques like the risk, fail, and recovery approach, challenging traditional gender roles, and providing positive female role models. Organizations like Questa Kids are also working towards creating a more balanced and empowering environment for girls.
By addressing the confidence gap head-on, you are not only helping your daughter flourish academically and socially but also equipping her with the tools to navigate life’s challenges with strength and conviction. The journey to building her confidence may require patience and persistence, but the rewards are immeasurable.
So, let’s join hands and uplift our daughters, empowering them to embrace their uniqueness, pursue their passions, and strive for greatness. Together, we can create a future where every girl shines brightly with unwavering confidence and unwritten possibilities.