It’s not easy to convince girls to embrace risk and failure, to turn off the negative soundtrack in their brains. So here’s a confidence cheat sheet, based on our research and recommendations from therapists and behavioral change experts.
1. Trade her comfort zone for her danger zone
Comfort zones inhibit growth. That doesn’t mean she has to quit the soccer team because she’s already great at soccer. But you should encourage your daughter to move beyond what she does well and tackle something scary. Risk looks different to every girl — for your daughter it might be inviting a new friend over, or checking out the debate team, or getting to school on her own.
Make a worst possible outcomes list. Looking at her fears together makes it obvious that the worst is not likely to happen and that she can handle it if it does.
Create a list of previous risks. Talk about what she learned. Remembering those experiences actually makes her feel braver.
Help her become her own coach. Come up with some positive, catchy phrases for her mantra. “You’ve got this!” “You’ve done stuff like this before!” Eventually, this becomes an automatic script in frightening situations.
More tips? You can read them here. They re-normalize and de-fang failure and frustration. In a culture where parents have literally been taught to swoop in and sweep away discomfort, disappointment and flame-outs, it is bracing to hear that we can step back and the kids will step up. In fact, maybe the reason kids FEAR stepping up is that they get so little practice.
As the authors write: "Remember that your daughter actually benefits from challenges. A bumpy path will build more confidence than a smooth one."