Hi there! I’m Christina, a mom of two littles, a licensed mental health therapist, and a soon-to-be children’s book author! Thanks for checking out my site. Look around! I’m sure there’s something here for you! This article is about how to encourage confidence in girls, and is based on tips from Marcie Colledge, PhD, and Kelly McCollum, MPH, the co-founders of Yellow Scope. (This post is not sponsored; I just think Yellow Scope, their fun mail-to-home science kits, and their mission are pretty cool!)
We all want our girls to grow up strong and confident. But research has shown that around 8-14 years old, young girls lose confidence by 30 percent. That’s such a huge drop! These girls report feeling insecurity about their appearances, but it goes deeper than that. They also start to doubt their talents and skills educationally or academically, especially in math and the sciences. This trend has only been aggravated by the pandemic, making self-esteem issues even worse.
According to Marcie Colledge, PhD, and Kelly McCollum, MPH, two moms behind the awesome, girl-focused subscription science kit company Yellow Scope, the antidote to this problem is simple:
Many parents, and moms, fear math and science, and do not feel capable to teach it to their girls. For one, I want to encourage you to not pass down your discomfort with the subjects on to your kids! Two, let’s outsource the teaching task to Yellow Scope so we can really make it fun! And three, follow the 5 simple tips below and your daughter will be well on her way to feeling more confident and capable.
Encourage Confidence with these 5 Tips
- Expose her to role models
Examine what books, shows, and movies are in your rotation. By reading her books or showing her programs about strong, smart, capable women will enable her to imagine herself in their shoes. Talk through with her what you’ve seen or read, and point out similarities between her and the protagonists. If you’re not sure where to start, here a few suggested books and movies:
o Marie Curie by Maria Isabel Sánchez Vergara
o Mae Among the Stars by Roda Ahmed
o The Girl with a Mind for Math: The Story of Raye Montague by Julia Finley Mosca
o Queen of Physics: How Wu Chien Shiung Helped Unlock the Secrets of the Atom by Teresa Robeson
o The Watcher: Jane Goodall’s Life with the Chimps by Jeanette Winter
o Hidden Figures (PG)
o Black Panther (PG-13)
o Code Girl (documentary)
o The Imitation Game (PG-13)
o Contact (PG)
o Gravity (PG-13)
- Solve problems together
This is a golden opportunity for you to model what you want her to mimic. You can encourage confidence in your daughter by showing it’s okay to not know the answer right away, and to work for it! If you’re helping her with math, or any homework really, and you feel stuck just like she does, show her how to get curious. Demonstrate how it can be fun to solve a problem together by making guesses, looking up what to do, do research, etc. Curate within yourself a sense of wonder and inspire the same wonder in her. Problem-solving together lets your daughter see that (a) it’s okay to not have all the answers, (b) it’s okay and encouraged to ask for help, and (c) that working to solve a problem can be exciting.
- Do educational activities together
Learning doesn’t only happen in school! By engaging with your child in educational activities, you’re teaching her that life is all about learning, and that it can be fun.
o Take your daughter to a local science museum (these are fun for the adults too!)
o Explore the wealth of resources on Yellow Scope’s blog. You can learn how to set up experiments with supplies you likely already have at home!
o Purchase Yellow Scope science, math, and engineering kits for some special quality time between you and your girl! These kits are award-winning and are perfect for 8-12 year old girls.
o Visit A Mighty Girl and find age-specific math games
o Learn about circuitry and electronics with Little Bits
- Embody a growth mindset
Have you heard of this before? It’s catching on, and thank goodness! The idea is that some folks have a “fixed mindset” where they believe their skills and abilities are fixed, or set. There isn’t anything they can do to improve. And they feel that their failures or successes are a result of these static abilities. Whereas those with a growth mindset know that they can always train and work harder in order to improve. They feel their failures are learning opportunities and their successes are not due to innate ability, but are well-earned due to hard and focused work. Helping your child view their experiences with a growth mindset encourages confidence because it puts the reins in their hands. I adore Big Life Journal to help in this area, and I wrote a whole post on them, so check that out!
- Give her time to explore on her own
Experience is the best teacher. Work on building the habits above with your kiddo, and then, give her space. Let her try, and even, let her fail. Help her work through challenge. Really, learning you can make your way through difficulty makes obstacles seem a whole lot smaller every time. If you step in to save your child — which we all have the urge to do — they will feel like they need to be saved, that they aren’t capable. And that is teaching the opposite of what we want. To encourage confidence, we need them to see they can try, and try again, and try again, and succeed. You know how wildly capable your sweetheart is. Imagine how it will be when she believes it too!