“Girl Power” – Some useful tips from the Girls Leadership Institute

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When the inevitable “fight” occurs between your daughter and another girl, I’m reminded every day how little I understand girls.

Girls, seem to file away each slight (intended or unintended) and have the uncanny ability to recall the most minute details years later.  Boys seem relatively easy and straightforward in comparison.  They will act like bone-heads towards each other, but they seem to get over it quickly.

As pointed out by our speaker from the Girls Leadership Institute (GLI), this attention to detail, coupled with a proclivity to hold grudges, creates a “snow ball” effect with girls.  Essentially, a minor dispute can quickly turn into drama of gigantic proportions.  The result more often than not is a hysterically crying daughter feeling like her soul is being crushed by the weight of the world!

So, what is a parent to do?  The speaker of GLI introduced the concept of “contribution.”  For the younger girls, the concept is described as a “double sorry.”  In my words, the concept is describing the old adage “it takes two to tango.”  The key here is for your daughter to recognize her own role in the dispute, take ownership, and put the actions of her offender in perspective.  For younger girls, GLI describes a double sorry as a way of making both girls realize there is something for each of them to be sorry about in a conflict.

The contribution concept is a very powerful one, in my opinion.  Instead of being the victim, your traumatized girl needs to understand what her role was in the confrontation.  You can ask her what she contributed to escalate the situation and how she could have prevented the escalation (well after the sobbing has stopped).

This exercise is meant to empower your daughter, not to make her feel she is to blame.  By recognizing that the elements behind a confrontation are not one way and straightforward, your girl can begin to think beyond the knee-jerk emotional response.  By examining her own contribution to a confrontation, your girl is in a better position to identify the actions and words that really upset her.

Admittedly, this is no easy task.  One of the hardest things for a girl to do is to approach a peer and talk about her feelings and how the other girl had hurt them. The GLI recommends role-playing with your daughter to help her practice so that she can choose her words and tone of voice in an appropriate manner.  As GLI pointed out, this process is difficult for anyone.  The only way to muster the confidence needed for good delivery is through practice.

I find the concept both powerful and enabling.  The ability to discuss hurtful comments with the person who made them is a useful skill and will serve your daughter well throughout life  The goal here is simple: help your daughter find her own voice and the confidence to use it.

For more information about the GLI, check out http://www.girlsleadershipinstitute.org/about-gli/The-Power-Of-Girls-Leadership-Institute

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