How to Raise Confident, Happy Teen Girls

This podcast will focus on how to Raise Confident, Happy Teen Girls by delving into (1) the challenges teen girls face, (2) how key adults can inspire girls and (3) how girls can deconstruct media, see themselves as more than just “bodies” and gain confidence through competence.

Confidence and self worth, both positive and negative, can influence how a person feels, thinks, and acts throughout childhood and adulthood. We all feel the outside influences from adults to children—boys and girls. It’s been well-researched that girls have it particularly tough these days- on How to Talk to Kids about Anything– we’ve heard it from Katie Hurley and Rosalind Wiseman who talked about mean girls pressures—we’ve heard it from Rachel Simmons when she told us that each girl is in need of feeling that she is enough as she is—and often does not because she is a constant state of comparison, perfection and striving– and we talked about it with Dina Alexander when we discussed media literacy and the images girls keep seeing every day as they submerge themselves in media and social media 24/7. My own work on girls’ body image and the confidence crisis that I personally present on and write about has shown again and again that the confidence and self worth of girls can get compromised as they move from the younger grades to older elementary school, middle school and high school. We know we have a problem—now what do we do?

Dannielle Miller is a best-selling Author, Teen Educator and Media Commentator In 2003 she founded Australia’s leading provider of in-school workshops for teen girls, Enlighten Education. More recently, she launched a program for boys, Goodfellas.  She has written for several online and print publications and has a bi-weekly column in Australia’s most read newspaper, The Daily Telegraph. She has written five books for parents and teen girls, including a best-selling title on raising happy, confident teen girls, The Butterfly Effect.  Dannielle is a popular speaker at youth and education conferences and forums internationally. 

The podcast provides:

  • The most troubling issues that face girls today. Why is this happening?
  • How key adults can have profound effects on girls
  • How girls can look at culture rather than themselves—to see what’s truly wrong.
  • Key tips that can help adults help girls to become happy and confident during the teen years.
  • What we can say to girls when they are feeling bad about themselves
  • How fathers can get involved

Important Messages:

  • Girls can look like they are doing well outwardly but behind closed doors they can be lacking confidence.
  • Exercise: (Close your eyes) How do you talk to yourself? How many of you have told yourself that you are not a beautiful girl? Not thing enough, not pretty enough, not hot enough, you don’t measure up to the other girls around you. (Insight on the words you use with yourself)
  • Insult girls: Fat, something about her sexuality, think she is all that.
  • When girls see that they are at war with their bodies because there is a war being waged on their bodies, they can turn their attention outward and deconstruct media and a culture that supports compare and despair.
  • This is not just a teen girl issue—women also struggle with these issues too. This is an opportunity to love yourself and knowing yourself so we can give that gift to our daughters. We can say; “I struggle with this too. Here’s what I do. Or, let’s look at this together.” Make this a women’s business—and connect with our daughters- strengthen the bond.
  • During the teen years, it doesn’t need to be mothers against daughters—it can be a time to connect on many of issues that they have in common.
  • Ditch the dieting. Don’t show your daughter this ridiculous cycle. Eat healthy food but don’t forbid food. What do we really want to achieve by dieting? Love? Value? Some of us seem to feel that we will be loved if we are hungry. Some of us feel that we will be loved if we feed ourselves more. But our bodies don’t define us.
  • Build up your daughter’s competence. Foster thankfulness. Build up confidence and connection.
  • One of the mistakes we have made that we expect girls in a group are all supposed to be best friends. But they don’t need to be friends with everyone. We can be friendly but not friends.  Treat them with dignity and respect.
  • Fathers have a large role in helping shape girls and a girl’s first experience of the male gaze. (See Dear Fatty by Dawn French)
  • What do you want more of? Girls said “love.” Even if our girls aren’t always easy to love- love them!
  • We’ve artificially constructed something negative around these years.
  • Some girls don’t want to talk about what went on during the day; “I’ve already lived it once, I don’t want to live it again!”
  • Encourage girls to deconstruct media. To have a strong sense of self- and this is dependent on their ability to think critically.

Notable Quotables:

  • “Our girls radiate this positive girl potential. But how can they change the world if they are so focused on changing themselves?”
  • “Not only do our girls think they are not thin enough, pretty enough or hot enough—they think they are the only ones experiencing this self doubt.”
  • “We are at war with our bodies because there is a war being waged on our bodies.”
  • “We need to teach our girls that their worth will never be determined by the number on the scale.”
  • “We need to teach our girls that they are not just bodies, they are somebodies.”
  • “Girls can’t be what they can’t see. They won’t see their full value and full worth if we, as mothers, don’t know our own full value and full worth.”
  • “There are so many opportunities to encourage our daughters to love, nourish and see what her body can do than to focus on the perceived deficits.”
  • “Love your daughter. Just because she might be more difficult to love at times doesn’t mean she doesn’t yearn for it. And if she isn’t getting it, she might look for it in different places and they aren’t always going to be positive.”
  • “True confidence comes from competence.” 
  • “Isn’t it what we all want– to be loved and to be seen?”
  • “We live in a culture that doesn’t seem to love our girls very much. It seems strange but I think we can fix this problem through love.”
  • “Often what makes our girls’ hearts sing is so simple.”
  • “Teenagers have a natural gift to be able to critique things! Have them turn that critical outward rather than inward—that’s a powerful force.”