Puberty is a transformational time for girls that comes with unique challenges in physical, mental and emotional forms. Between trying to manage increasingly complex emotions, adjusting to their evolving bodies and navigating social changes, it’s no wonder half of girls lose confidence at this moment in life — and many never fully recover. This is why it’s crucial to not only educate girls about the changes they’re experiencing, but to actively support them as they develop their confidence.
This drop in confidence can be even more significant when girls are not prepared. A recent Always Confidence & Puberty Survey revealed that nearly 1 in 5 girls miss school because they do not have the proper access to period products. And it’s not just school they miss, it also means they miss out on activities they love like sports and clubs. These activities help build her confidence and skills, and missing out can limit a girl’s potential and opportunities far beyond puberty.
There are many ways that individuals can help champion girls, and the impact can be even greater when larger organizations also come together in support. For example, Always and Walmart have joined forces via the Live #LikeAGirl program, which is aimed at helping #EndPeriodPoverty for puberty-aged girls so they can stay in extracurricular activities. Together, these two companies are making pad donations to 50 teams in 50 states, and offering access to puberty and confidence education and tips from key experts. The program kicked off in Florida, where a local martial arts studio that serves girls in need became a recipient of the program. The girls on the team talk about their experience here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MZBrna5E0u4&feature=youtu.be.
Live #LikeAGirl program experts include New York Times bestselling author and confidence expert and co-founder of Girls Leadership, Rachel Simmons, and Girlology Co-founder Dr. Melisa Holmes who will provide information and coaching to the activity leaders helping support girls through this life stage. According to Simmons and Holmes, these easy-to-action tips can help you become a champion of girls’ confidence and provide the best support system for the girls in your life:
1. Consistently support them through successes and failures: Whether it is persevering through a tough class in school or getting enough practice in before the talent show, being part of their daily accomplishments makes these moments more enjoyable for girls. Consistently being there and cheering them on is one of the most important things you can do for them, especially at puberty. Expressing praise and noticing how hard they’ve worked for something, even if they fail, will help boost their confidence in more ways than you may know.
2. Keep them involved in extracurricular activities: As girls develop their confidence, it’s important to help them discover their true passions in life — whether it’s art club, martial arts or softball. Create opportunities for girls to try new activities and expand their skills. Rachel Simmons advises that when girls are part of a bigger team, whether sports, service or the arts, they learn to work cooperatively and persevere through setbacks. Learning new skills will help them grow in confidence.
3. Have open and frequent discussions about puberty: At puberty, it can be nerve-wracking to speak openly about the physical changes we all experience. Preparing for “the talk” can feel like a daunting task, but to help girls better understand what is going on, Holmes advises keeping an open and positive dialogue about what to expect. Start the conversations early and use the correct terms for body parts. Remind them often that the changes they’re experiencing are completely normal. Additionally, it’s important to let girls know the importance of using safe and hygienic period protection. For example, if not all girls have access to proper period products, some may have to resort to using non-pad materials such as toilet paper or paper towels which may result in irritation and rashes. She also shares that some girls and their families may not be aware of additional resources to get the period protection they need. Talk to your daughter about the resources that exist in your community, whether it’s a school nurse, a school pantry or local shelter.
4. Teach her to bounce right back: Girls can learn the importance of perseverance from you, so let her see how you dust yourself off after a setback. Failure is part of the learning process and role modeling the right behavior can give her a clear script for her own positive self-talk. When she judges herself harshly, remind her of all she’s accomplished already. After a misstep, help her to regroup and plan her next move by asking her to write down some next steps. Focus on small goals. For example, if she makes a bad grade in chemistry, encourage her to aim for a grade letter higher the next time around and formulate a study plan to help her meet that goal.
5. Prepare yourself with the right information, guidance and advice: Utilizing the proper resources as a guide to care for girls during these years will not only benefit the girls, but also parents, caretakers, mentors and coaches in providing the stability they need for a growth in their confidence during puberty and beyond. There are multiple resources to rely on in local communities that can make sure you’re helping girls navigate in the best way possible, including recreation centers, community centers, educational classes and online resources like www.Always.com.
By following these steps, you can help the girls in your life navigate puberty with greater ease and create a strong foundation for their confidence throughout life.