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Posts tagged frustrated
Low Confidence with Bright Girls

In the article “Why Bright Girls Struggle: When Ability Doesn't Lead to Confidence,” Katherine of A Mighty Girl, acknowledges the differences between the positive affirmations men and women need. In detail, she describes how bright girls tend to doubt themselves because they do not think that they can succeed at something new and challenging.


Girls may not realize that the hardest obstacle to overcome is within themselves. In order to succeed, girls may hold themselves to a higher standard. However, this harsh judgement can get too much into their heads and make them doubt even simple tasks more than men would. For example, psychologist Heidi Grant Halvorson, the author of “Nine Things Successful People Do Differently,” writes "at the 5th grade level, girls routinely outperform boys in every subject, including math and science... [but] bright girls [are] much quicker to doubt their ability, to lose confidence, and to become less effective learners as a result." Halvorson notes that even though girls do better than boys do in school, girls are more likely to lose faith in their ability to succeed time after time. In fact, girls may give up quicker than boys when a task appears more complex or difficult and girls who have straight A’s and a higher intelligence are more likely to give up sooner than others.

We, as individuals, need to understand why bright girls question their abilities and how we can help them feel more confident. Instead of letting girls give up when a task is too complex, we should encourage them to keep going not only because we believe in them but because they are already good at the task, they may be just doubting themselves and tenacity is helpful in these situations. Practice makes better, even when they’re struggling.

Further studies have discovered that girls believe that their abilities are unchangeable (a fixed mindset), while boys believe that their effort and practice will be enough to get them through (a growth mindset). This difference in attitude is based on the kind of feedback that each gender receives. For instance, boys are given feedback that emphasizes their effort whether they need to apply themselves more or are doing a good job. On the other hand, girls are given feedback on how smart and good they are or are not. These beliefs can create self doubt and possibly maintain the self doubt throughout their lives if they are not changed.

If women question their ability to succeed then one should embrace what they can do versus what they can’t. Have confidence in oneself to accomplish and accept challenges one may face. Keep working hard because practice makes better!

For more information on how to help your teen increase their confidence, please contact us. For more information on therapy, visit FAQ at Hilber Psychological Services.

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


Katherine. “Why Bright Girls Struggle: When Ability Doesn't Lead to Confidence.” A Mighty Girl. 18 Nov. 2018. Web. https://www.amightygirl.com/blog?p=21158

Grant Halvorson, Heidi. “The Trouble With Bright Girls.” Psychology Today. 11 Jan. 2011. Web. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-science-success/201101/the-trouble-bright-girls

Grant Halvorson, Heidi. (2012) Nine Things Successful People Do Differently. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Publishing.

9 Things Parents Can Say to Defuse a Meltdown With Compassion

Of course you love your children, but aren't they just so good at pushing your buttons? It's easy to get frustrated when your children are demanding impossible requests or continue to do the one thing you asked them not to over and over. Thoughts may cross your mind such as, "I brought you into this world, I can take you out," (although you would never say that aloud). Your first reaction may be to raise your voice and punish your child, however this article will prepare you with 9 sayings to use when your child is having a meltdown that get the point across while still using compassion. 

It is important to reinforce connection, not separation. Vanessa Lapointe suggests "discipline without damage". Based off of science, and the way a child's brain develops, we want to build children who are hardy, not hardened. Children who are hardy have the ability to overcome to struggles of life, while children who are hardened cannot, and instead shut down using poor coping skills. Below are 9 sayings found on Lapointe's Disciple Cheat Sheet to help change the way you defuse a difficult situation with your child. 

1. Instead of: "What were you thinking?" 
Say: "I'm going to help you with this."

2. Instead of: "How many times do I have to tell you?"
Say: "I'm going to do (__) so that it will be easier for you." 

3. Instead of: "Stop it! You're embarrassing me!"
Say: "Let's go to a quieter place to get this sorted out."


4. Instead of: "If you don't stop that, no Xbox for a week!"
Say: "I can see this is tricky for you. We're going to solve this later. Let's get a drink of water first."

5. Instead of: "Go to your room."
Say: "Come here, I've got you."

6. Instead of: "No stars on the star chart for you!"
Say: "Let's figure out a better way for next time."

7.  Instead of: "Stop. That. Right. NOW!"
Say: "If you need to get your mad out- then go ahead. It's okay. I've got you."

8. Instead of: *Silent eye-roll and frustration sigh*
Say: *Kindness in our eyes and compassionate hair tousle*

9. Instead of: "You are IMPOSSIBLE!"
Say: "We will get this figured out. I can handle ALL of you. It's all good."

The key to defusing a meltdown is to use different tactics from the Disciple Cheat Sheet. When your toddler does something, such as color on the wall, instead of yelling, begin by maintaining a calm voice and saying "You know we aren't supposed to color on the wall, let's get this cleaned up." If your toddler fights back, stay calm and move to another tactic, "I can see this is tricky for you, we're going to solve this later. Let's get a drink of water." It may take time, but eventually your child will calm down, and that is when you can show them how to get the color off of the wall. Your child still learns their actions have consequences, but you were able to get your point across without raising your voice. 

Children's brains have not developed impulse control, therefore no amount of yelling will change the brain's wiring. The phrases above work best for young children, but you can use the same idea of compassion to get your point across with older children and adults. When using these phrases, it is important to remain confident, all-knowing, and in charge, in order to avoid helicoptering your child. Although it may take time for the parent to refer to these phrases before getting frustrated, remember that "It's okay. I've got you," may be exactly what your child needs to hear. 

If you have questions about using compassion and the good affects it can have on you and your child or would like to schedule an appointment, please contact us. For more information on therapy, visit FAQ at Hilber Psychological Services

~Written by Allison Parker and Tanya L. Hilber, PsyD

Reference: Porter, Evan. “9 Things Parents Can Say to Defuse a Meltdown with Compassion.”Upworthy, Cloud Tiger Media Inc., 21 July 2017.

No Drama Discipline: The Principles, Part 4

Last week, I began to discuss the second of three principles, Chasing the Why, in the article “No Drama Discipline: The Principles, Part 3.” These three principles, based on the book “No Drama Discipline” by Dr. Daniel Siegel and Dr. Tina Payne Bryson, examine how parents can connect with their children during discipline, utilizing the moment to teach a child rather than make a child feel bad. To learn about the foundation of No Drama Discipline, please review articles “No Drama Discipline: The Foundation, Part 1,” and “No Drama Discipline: The Foundation, Part 2.” To review the first principle in No Drama Discipline, Turning Down the Shark Music, please refer to the articles “No Drama Discipline: The Principles, Part 1” and “No Drama Discipline: The Principles, Part 2.” A parent’s goal throughout discipline is to play the role of a detective. Chasing the Why asks parents to internally ask themselves, “what is my child trying to communicate through his or her behavior?” By remaining curious about a child’s behavior, a parent allows him or herself to look into a child’s internal state rather than the external behavior.

Let’s review an example of what discipline may look like utilizing the connection principle, Chasing the Why.

Dave is a single parent raising 12yo Alice. Alice has always been a good student and Dave hopes that Alice will follow in his footsteps to become a lawyer. One day, Dave receives a phone call from the school stating that Alice has been disruptive in class by frequently talking to classmates. Embarrassed about the call, Dave begins to become anxious. He imagines Alice's grades dropping and her future jeopardized. For Dave, his shark music regarding his own fears for his daughter’s future become louder. Instead of letting the shark music grow, Dave takes a deep breath to clear his head. He allows himself to become curious as he asks Alice questions about her behaviors rather than make assumptions about the motivation behind them. He may begin by asking Alice, “Alice, tell me about your day,” to first connect with Alice. Dave may then ask Alice specific questions about the conversation with Alice’s teacher. “Alice, I heard from your teacher today. She seems to think that you have been more talkative in class than usual. Tell me a little about that.”

By taking the time to explore the reasons behind the child’s behavior, a parent may be surprised from what the child’s motivation is rather than the parent’s own perceived motivation. In the above scenario, Alice may reply that she has been more talkative because she recently made a new friend, or that her friend had a bad day and she wanted to make her feel better. The parent will still have to help the child learn strategies to handle these situations in an appropriate manner, however, by chasing the why the parent is creating a way to connect with the child rather than dismissing the child and missing the opportunity to understand the child’s motivation for the behavior.

Tips and Tricks: It is important for parents not to directly ask, “Why did you do this?” For many children (and even adults) asking “why” can cause defensiveness in those being asked. Furthermore, depending on the age of the child, the child may not be at a developmental level where he or she could tell you the motivation for the behavior. It is not uncommon for parents to hear “I don’t know” when asking a child about an event. Try asking open-ended questions (i.e. “What did you do in school today?”) instead of closed-ended questions (i.e. “Did you get into trouble today?"). Closed-ended questions will limit the interaction between parent and child.

Chasing the why is asking parents to ask “why” in their own heads in order to create that curiosity and let that open mindset guide the conversation. In this way parents can begin to not only address the external concerns, or behaviors, but look into the child’s internal concerns, or the root cause underneath the behavior, to prevent future problematic behaviors.

If you would like more support in parenting your child, whether in couples therapy or individual therapy, please do not hesitate to contact us at Hilber Psychological Services to explore options. Therapy can be a great way for parents to discuss personal concerns that may get in the way of parenting. If you have any general questions, please visit our FAQ.

Tune back next time as we examine the third and final principle, Think About the How based on the book “No Drama Discipline” by Dr. Daniel Siegel and Dr. Tina Payne Bryson.

Parenting 101: Positive Reinforcement, Part 1

Parenting can be challenging, overwhelming, and exhausting. If you are a parent who feels that there are more bad days than good days with your child, you are not alone. Many parents struggle trying to find the balance of parenting, which is not easy. Previous blog entries "Parenting 101: Discipline, Part 1 and Parenting 101: Discipline, Part 2" explored the part of parenting about controlling behavior and setting boundaries. In this article, we will discuss focusing on the positive aspects of your child and how that can decrease unwanted behaviors at home. Let’s start with the basics. What is positive reinforcement? How does it work? Positive reinforcement is a behavioral modification tool that looks to highlight positive aspects in children. Children can make two choices: a poor choice, such as pushing a sibling, or a good choice, such as sharing with a sibling. When a child makes a poor choice, there is a consequence that is associated with that behavior, such as a time-out. Most parents understand this concept all too well. However, what some parents tend to forget is to highlight positive choices children make. Positive reinforcement is when a parent acknowledges and praises a child for good behavior. When positive reinforcement is used, the child is more likely to engage in that positive behavior again in the future. As such, the goal of positive reinforcement is to increase your child’s positive behaviors while decreasing your child’s unwanted behaviors.

What does positive reinforcement look like? It can be a statement, a gesture, or a physical reward. When engaging in positive reinforcement with your child, it is important to make a clear and explicit statement to the child that links the praise with the behavior. This allows the child to connect the specific behavior with the positive reinforcement.

Below are some examples of what positive reinforcement may look like with a child.

  • Statement:
    • Sam: “Here Tommy, you can have a turn playing with the race car now.”
    • Parent: “Wow, Sam, thank you so much for sharing with Tommy. That was so kind of you.”
  • Gesture:
    • Sam: “Here Tommy, you can have a turn playing with the race car now.”
    • Parent: “Thank you for sharing your race car with Tommy.” Parent makes this statement as the parent hugs the child.
  • Physical reward:
    • Sam: “Here Tommy, you can have a turn playing with the race car now.”
    • Parent: “Wow, Sam, thank you so much for sharing with Tommy. That was so kind of you. As a reward for being so kind, you can play on the ipad for 10 minutes today.”

Adding positive reinforcement to your parenting style is easy and can decrease unwanted behaviors. Today we discussed a few simple ways to add some positivity to the relationship you have with your child. Next week, I will be discussing ways to implement a more specific reward system into the home.

For more ideas on positive behaviors, check out Dr. Hilber’s blog "Catching the 'Good'" as she explores tips for creating a positive home environment.

While implementing a new parenting style, there may still be some setbacks. Parenting can be difficult, as parents have their own stressors to deal with. If you are a parent and feel that you could use some extra support, therapy can be a great way to give yourself the care you may need. Feel free to Contact Us at Hilber Psychological Services to set up an appointment today. If you have any general questions, you can visit FAQ at Hilber Psychological Services to address them.