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Hilber Psychological Services

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Girls and the Struggle with Confidence

In the article “Why Girls Beat Boys at Schools and Lose to them at the Office,” author Lisa Damour describes that even though girls do better academically, they are still not getting the recognition they deserve for working so hard. Boys and girls may receive the same grades, but it is seen that girls put more effort into their work than boys because they are afraid of making a mistake. 

For example, Damour stated that between an eighth-grade girl and a ninth-grade boy in her practice who were siblings, the girl said that she was overwhelmed by school and made sure that her grades were unmistakeable by spending an hour on each assignment (Damour). She noted that she felt “safe” only if she did this routinely. On the contrary, her brother would do the same assignments and fly through them and still get the same grade as her. 

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As a result, journalists Katty Kay and Claire Shipman, who wrote The Confidence Gap, “found that a shortage of competence is less likely to be an obstacle than a shortage of confidence.” In detail, it is found that girls are more self-disciplined regarding their school work than boys are. Girls may study harder and get better grades, but men still have “95 percent of the top positions in the largest public companies” (Damour).

As men experience that they can get away with exerting minimal effort in school, they develop a type of confidence that gets them to the top. On the other hand, girls may focus so much on studying for the “perfect” academic grades that they may discredit their own abilities and/or miss opportunities for building their confidence.

As girls grow up, remind them that they are intelligent and can work hard but at the same time balance out their lives with fun and rewards for doing so well and applying so much effort. We want them to build more confidence with their work, without developing more anxiety. Women may put so much pressure on themselves to do well and stress that everything needs to be perfect. The main question Damour asks is “how do we get hyper-conscientious girls (and boys, as there certainly are some with the same style) to build both confidence and competence at school?”

For more information on girls, confidence, and anxiety, please contact us. To learn how we can help you or your child who may be struggling with their confidence at school or at the office, contact us or visit our website. For more information on therapy, visit Hilber Psychological Services.

- Written by Lily Schmitt and Tanya L. Hilber, PsyD

References

Damour, Lisa. (2019, Feb 7). Why Girls Beat Boys at School and Lose to Them at the Office. The New York Times. Opinion. Web. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/07/opinion/sunday/girls-school-confidence.html.

Kay, Katty & Shipman, Claire. (2014, May). The Confidence Gap. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2014/05/the-confidence-gap/359815/.

What to do when Girls experience Bullying and Frenemies

In the the article “Helping Girls Cope with Bullying and Frenemies,” author Signe Whitson describes the passive aggressive world girls live in. She denotes that parents should be aware of their child’s emotions and how another girl can strongly affect them. Whitson describes simple lessons that parents should teach their child that will truly help her with her troubles with her friends. Girl friends are always nice to have, a good support system, a shoulder to cry on, someone who will lift you up and give you confidence, and make you laugh, but at the same time they could be a devil in disguise. 

Whitson focuses on the common question: “What can adults do to help kids cope with inevitable experiences of friendship conflict and bullying?”

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To Intervene or Not to Intervene?

It is very confusing when it is the right time to intervene. Parents have trouble deciding if they should protect their child from bullying and the pain that comes with a broken friendship or let them figure it out. Truthfully, no child should be left to deal with their pain alone especially when they lose a friendship. In the moment, calling off the friendship may have been the right decision because your child’s mental health and self-esteem can now improve, but your daughter just lost a person that was a piece of her life for so much time. This is when your child needs adult support and reassurance that everything will be okay. Bullying is a huge part of a girl’s life and most girls don’t know how to cope with it or even know that friendship should not be this hard. 

Teach Her to Know it When it Happens

Bullying is known to fly “under-the-radar” in a sense that it is very hard to distinguish when it is happening.  Many girls don’t know what they are experiencing it in their friendship until the pain, humiliation, and isolation gets into their heads. Even then, it is important that parents keep and open dialogue with their child and teach them typical behaviors that they need to look out for in a friendship...the warning signs. 

When girls know what bullying looks and feels like, they are more educated to make a decision to move on from friendships that are making them feel bad when using these behaviors.

Whitson lists the common behaviors that bullies do that adults and kids need to be consciousness of: 

  1. Excluding girls from parties and play dates

  2. Talking about parties and play dates in front of girls who are not invited

  3. Mocking, teasing, and calling girls names

  4. Giving girls the "silent treatment"

  5. Threatening to take away friendship ("I won't be your friend anymore if...")

  6. Encouraging others to "gang up" on a girl you are angry with

  7. Spreading rumors and starting gossip about a girl

  8. "Forgetting" to save a seat for a friend or leaving a girl out by "saving a seat" for someone else

  9. Saying something mean and then following it with "just joking" to try to avoid blame

  10. Using cell phones and/or social media to gossip, start rumors, say mean things, or forward embarrassing posts and photos

Help Your Daughter Cope with her Anger

Remember anger is a normal emotion to have. However, many girls are taught at a young age that anger is bad. They are pressured to be “good” all the time but that is a little difficult when their feelings get hurt. This is when your child needs to express how they feel no matter how hard it may be. Whitson provides an example of how a child should communicate her feelings: "Hey. I don't like the way you are treating me right now. I'm feeling angry about what you just said/did/pretended not to do, and I'm not going to let you treat me that way anymore.

Encourage Her to Show Strength

It is okay to feel sad, or hurt, or angry, but it is even better if girls know how to communicate what they are feeling whether that is to a close friend or a frenemy. However, when it comes to facing off with a frenemy, Whitson advices to parents ”teach young girls how to show resolute strength.” Teach your child how to be strong verbally in a sense that she knows how to control what comes out of her mouth and deflect a situation whenever their feelings are disrespected. As a parent, it is your job to be a cushion for your child where she can lean on you for support and express her emotions: a safe place to be vulnerable. 

Teach Her to Know What She is Looking For

A friendship provides a sense of belonging where girls should be comfortable being themselves and opening up. If your daughter feels like she can’t do that then the friendship should be questioned. In order to feel accepted and embraced, a friendly, heart warming conversation with your daughter is never too bad to remind her about the values she should look for in a friendship. Whitson acknowledges that in any real friendship, both parties should:

  • Use kind words

  • Take turns and cooperates

  • Shares

  • Uses words to tell each other how she feels

  • Help each other when needed

  • Compliments each other 

  • Includes each other 

  • Is always there for each other 

  • Understands how each other feels

  • Care about each other’s opinions and feelings

  • Stand up for one another 

  • Is fun to be with

  • Has a lot in common with each other 

When girls understand their feelings and how they should communicate them, a beautiful and supportive friendship will result. With help from their parents, girls will learn all the skills needed to form a healthy friendship by knowing what a quality friendship looks like. 

For more information on how Hilber Psychological Services can help you and your children to cope with their friendship conflicts and feelings, please contact us

- Written by Lily Schmitt and Tanya L. Hilber, PsyD

References 

Whitson, Signe. “Helping Girls Cope with Bullying and Frenemies.” Psychology Today. Web. 12, Jan. 2015. https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/passive-aggressive-diaries/201501/helping-girls-cope-bullying-and-frenemies

Helping your Tween or Teen Navigate Social Conflict

In the article “How to Help Tweens and Teens Manage Social Conflict,” author Lisa Damour describes the difference between a conflict and what is defined as bullying. She suggests multiple ways parents can address these problems. Also in her book “Under Pressure: Confronting the Epidemic of Stress and Anxiety in Girls,” she references how you as a parent can deal with stress and anxiety from experiencing a conflict with your child and another tween or teen. 

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To begin with, Damour illustrates that middle school and high school are the prime times for bullying and conflict to occur. In school, “social friction and hurt feelings often come with the territory, with the risk of causing intense emotional stress both for the tweens and teenagers themselves...” (Damour).

“Conflict is unavoidable and can be a point of growth,” says Andrea Shaffer, a teacher and coach for conflict cases at the private preschool-grade 12 Chicago Waldorf Schools. Although conflict can be very mentally draining, once teens work out their conflicts, it is very rewarding. With friendship comes conflict. Each friendship endures a hardship that tests their friendship. As a teenager conflict is very hard to deal with alone. It is in these situations when parents are recommended to step in. Not only will parents help diffuse the situation, but also through the process, children will learn how to communicate clearly and express how they are feeling about the situation in a calm, non-blaming tone of voice. 

Parents are most helpful to their children when they take conflict seriously and “have strategies to coach them along as they work to resolve things on their own” according to Damour.

Don’t Confuse Conflict With Bullying

Damour alludes that “when our [a] child suffers a social injury, it’s easy to conclude that he or she has been bullied.” However, experts suggest that this word is commonly misconceived. Bullying is a term that is used frequently when aggression is in the eye. 

Social discord “rarely involves bullying,” explains Phyllis Fagell, a counselor at the Sheridan School, in Washington, D.C., and the author of the forthcoming book “Middle School Matters.” “Most commonly, conflict stems from anything ranging from a misunderstood comment to a spilled secret, to a lopsided friendship.”

When this occurs, it is difficult for many to diagnose when to intervene. Sometimes teenagers just need to work it out, while other times require adult, teacher, coach or counselor supervision. In either of these situations, it is important to remember that each child is emotional. Although one may be the main cause of the problem (the bully), they should both be treated fairly. As a parent, Damour explains that “you’ll want to take a measured, evidence-based approach to the problem” if your child is being bullied. This way you can develop strategies to help manage the situation such as sitting down and having a conversation, separating the two who are in the conflict, or taking it up to a more authoritative figure at the school.

Teach Healthy Conflict

In order to diffuse conflict, parents should coach and practice what their teen should say and do. From there, teens and tweens can decide their next move based on how comfortable they feel with the whole thing. It is dire to measure how serious the situation is. Either way, it is important “to stand up for yourself while being respectful of others” (Damour).

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At any age, most people go directly to an unhealthy response and source of action when it comes to being upset with someone. Damour suggests that when “advising adolescents on how they might handle a disagreement, I first teach them about reactions to conflict and allow them to daydream their way through a bulldozer, doormat or doormat-with-spikes response.”

Most people want to get back at the person who caused them pain. Some people verbally rake someone while others post an unflattering image of the “friend” on social media and write a nasty comment about them. With this being done, the “friend” might respond. There is no telling how or in what tone they will respond in, but the whole goal of the picture on social media is to get a reaction out of the other person. By doing this, the two friends are forced to talk because one caused a commotion that needs to be dealt with. 

“Kids may need to be reminded,” says Ms. Fagell, “to keep arguments offline. Because once they’ve waged war in a group chat at one in the morning, it becomes much harder to achieve a peaceful resolution.”

Let Them Pick Their Battles

When it comes to two teens who are in an argument, it is best to either decide to guide your child in the right direction by diffusing the situation in a civil way or deciding not to engage at all. Although you may feel the urge to help your child or tell them what to do every step of the way, “conflict, even when handled well, takes time and tremendous mental energy” (Damour). In these types of situations, it is best to help your child weigh out the costs and benefits of engaging in conflict. Damour states that it is important to ask you and your child questions that will help them determine their next step: “Do they care about the relationship enough to want to work on it? Do they expect their pillar overture to meet with a similar response?”

“Contrary to conventional wisdom,” adds Ms. Fagell, “kids aren’t always looking to restore friendships. They may need permission to move on or need help creating a more comfortable, if distant, interpersonal dynamic.” They just need to find some closure.

Teaching your child to pick their battles is a risky step. In detail, they could go the easy way and just cut off their “friend” or they could do everything to hurt that “friend.” Either way, most tweens and teens will want to emotionally hurt the other person and make them feel the burden that they felt. But that’s not the goal. As Ms. Shaffer notes, “we don’t have emotional Bubble Wrap for children, but we do have ways to help them develop the emotional agility to navigate through difficult situations.”

For more information on friendships, teens, and tweens and conflict resolution, please contact us. To learn how we can help you or your child who may be struggling with being successful managing the social world, contact us or visit our website. For more information on therapy, visit Hilber Psychological Services.

- Written by Lily Schmitt and Tanya L. Hilber, PsyD

References

Damour, Lisa. (2019, Jan 16). How to Help Tweens and Teens Manage Social Conflict. The NY Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/16/well/family/how-to-help-tweens-and-teens-manage-social-conflict.html.

Damour, Lisa. (2017). Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions Into Adulthood. New York, NY: Ballantine Books.

Damout, Lisa. (2019). Under Pressure: Confronting the Epidemic of Stress and Anxiety in Girls. New York, NY: Ballantine Books.

What Change is like for Individuals with ADHD

In the article, “Lazy Days of Summer? For ADHD Moms, That’s Not a Thing,” author Tricia Arthur describes how her never-ending, changing weeks can take a toll on her mental health. She notes that ”changes in a routine are very difficult for a person with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD or ADD)” to juggle. Especially during the summer, one’s stress levels and self-doubt can increase because it is so hard to keep track of everything going on in not only your life but the rest of the family’s and still believe it is possible. 

Arthur’s life coach said, “that neurotypical people are a tad quicker and more intuitive than ADHD-brained people in making adjustments when changing circumstances require it.” Knowing this, it is understandable why you, who struggles with ADHD, has a harder time comprehending changing plans all the time. During this time, it is important to relax and give yourself a break and realize that everything will work out; you just have to take it step by step, day by day. 

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Summer is the hardest season for most parents to get used to. From a routine every day to different plans each week, and even every day, is a lot to think about. It takes a lot of time to pan every little detail out, which can be exhausting. Although it may seem like you have the appropriate med regiment to reduce ADHD symptoms and the right amount of help and brain rest and self-care to keep a clear, open mind, it may also seem like you can snap at any moment because all these things are on your mind (Arthur). Each day something probably increases your stress level which makes you more anxious, however, it does not have to always be like that. Touching base with your therapist can also assist with these big changes to help it become a little smoother. As long as you acknowledge your stresses and take a step back to see how you can counterbalance them, whether that is by delegating or taking breaks in between, it is okay to be stressed.

Unfortunately, even if you are doing everything right, or just simply getting through the day, you will have to do it all over again. Arthur suggests writing a motivational note to yourself that reminds you that you are doing great and that stress is okay that says something like this:

Dear Tricia, You have ADHD, and it’s for real. Know that everything it takes to run your family and your life is way more difficult for you than it is for others. This means you gotta take care of yourself more than others have to take care of themselves. This also means you gotta give yourself a crap ton of grace. You really are rocking it and you really are intelligent and when you don’t feel you are either, be patient. Also, layer on the self-care, consult with your ADHD-specialized psychiatrist, and did I say be patient? Breathe and be patient. Now is not forever. Healing, a better grip, and inner calm always return in time. Hang on. Remember: You rock! Love, Tricia”

For more information on ADHD and its symptoms, please contact us. To learn how we can help you or your child who may be struggling with being successful with ADHD, contact us or visit our website. For more information on therapy, visit Hilber Psychological Services.

To learn how Neurofeedback can help with ADHD symptoms, visit San Diego Center for Neurofeedback, APPC or contact SDCNF for for more information.

- Written by Lily Schmitt and Tanya L. Hilber, PsyD

References:

Arthur, Tricia. “Lazy Days of Summer? For ADHD Moms, That’s Not a Thing.” Attitude. Web. 7,  Aug. 2019. https://www.additudemag.com/i-hate-summer-adhd-mom