Do you remember middle school?
If you’re like most people when asked that question, it’s often met with a laugh, or a sigh, or worse. Thinking back to those awkward years, we remember how difficult it was to fit in and how often the daily was just to “get through it”. Today with all of the media and technology outlets available, getting through the day can be even more of a challenge for many girls.
Girls in middle school can feel like they are in the “land for misfit toys” — where everyone wants to forget that they were even there. The memories of that place and time in life linger with us forever. Girls in middle school are especially vulnerable to not only their own thoughts, but to what everyone else is thinking and saying around them. That negative voice we hear as women in our heads often starts in these formative years — and it is that voice that can shape our feelings about who we are not just at 11 or 12 but as adults as well.
5 Ways To Keep Middle School Girls’ Confidence Intact
Even the most courageous girl often has doubts in her head that question her self-worth. How can a young girl escape the imprint of middle school on her future? By learning to be confident.
The good news is that confidence isn’t something we are born with or part of DNA. In fact, according to the book “The Confidence Code” by Katty Kay and Claire Shipmen, DNA is only a very small part of why we are confident.
According to Kay and Shipmen there are five things that undermine confidence for women:
“We think too much. Women are much more likely than men to ruminate. Excessive examination actually inhibits confidence because it can keep women from taking action. Consider this: You’re debating whether to recommend a course of action at work. It’s a tough call, and you dig in to examine both sides in-depth. But your examination takes so long, that you start to lose your ability to make a decision. Frozen, you decide not to weigh in at all.”
We believe failure is a failure. Failing is actually cool now. “Fail fast” is a hot tech buzz phrase. In today’s business climate, failing means you’ve been willing to try, to get in the game. And it means you’ve learned. Don’t let a fear of failure hold you back from trying something risky or new. Some of the greatest inventions of our time were the result of a failed experiment!
We carry criticism around with us far too long. We have to learn to toughen our hides, as Hillary Clinton said last week. Imagining that the rest of the world, or your boss, or whomever, is still focused on that thing involving you is not only a waste of time, but also a confidence killer. As they say, we are often our own worst critics!
We never leave our comfort zones. Confidence comes from risk-taking, but we are too determined to be perfect. When you’re focused on perfection, you can often become paralyzed waiting for everything to line up before you push forward. Nobody’s perfect — and that’s okay!
We don’t speak up, and too often, we use upspeak. It’s a habit we know you’ll recognize: raising the tone of your voice at the end of a sentence in a way that suggests a question rather than a declaration. Try these: “I think we should go with the on-line marketing strategy.” “I think we should go with the online marketing strategy?” One professor told us he thinks women use upspeak in an effort to seek approval. Lose the questioning tone, and boost your confidence.
Thinking about girls in middle school, this is the time to wipe out these five beliefs and habits by practice! Malcolm Gladwell in his book “Outliers” identified it takes 10,000 hours to master a skill. Confidence is something that needs to be exercised every day.
We’d love to hear from you! Do you still hear that little voice in your head from middle school? Do you recognize yourself in any of the tips Kay and Shipman talk about? Comment below or join our Girl Talk Group to bounce ideas off other parents of middle-school-aged girls.