How to Talk to Girls about Overcoming Fears & Embracing Kindness

This podcast will focus on the challenges of “growing up girl” and how it impacts the barriers they put in front of themselves and between themselves and other girls. How do we help girls to become more fearless? How do we help them take positive risks, be authentic and fearlessly kind? For these questions and more, we turn to a conversation with our guest today, Kate Whitfield.

There are many things that teens, in general fear in their lives— from grades in school to changing bodies to making a fool out of themselves in front of their class— adolescence can be a scary time for anyone. As a teenage girl, there are additional pressures that are linked to fears that get in the way of  embracing life— of reaching their potential, raising their hand in class, approaching a new friend, trying out for the school play or going out for a sports team. From fear of rejection to rumors to possible failure— girls can put many barriers in the way of enjoying life to it’s fullest and it can impact behavior, interpersonal choices and relationships as well. So how can we make girls more fearless? For this and many more questions on overcoming fears and embracing kindness in the lives of girls, we are turning to superstar, Kate Whitfield.

Kate Whitfield is a speaker, author, social entrepreneur, and the founder of FearlesslyGIRL – an internationally recognized anti bullying organization dedicated to creating a Kinder Girl World, reaching over 50,000 girls annually through clubs and school programs.. Kate has established herself as a “go-to” expert on girl world and anti-bullying, and was selected by Instagram and the Prime Minister’s Office as an #EducationCan Ambassador, advising the Prime Minister on youth and education related issues, and named an “Exemplary Canadian” by Facebook Canada for her work empowering young women.

The podcast provides:

  • Why girls limit themselves, won’t raise their hands or back down from fears
  • The difference between nice and kind and why this matters
  • Tips to help girls reach out and support each other
  • The benefits and drawbacks of sports
  • What to say to a girl who is taking a backseat in their life
  • What to say to a boy that can inspire them to support a girl in their life
  • Activities to do with girls to help them overcome fears

Important Messages:

  • We need girls to know that conflict exists within a friendship and to get comfortable with that so they know it’s not the end of a friendship. That being said, friendships don’t need to be forever.
  • Let’s not have girls aspire to be “nice” and well-liked.
  • It’s not about not having fear— but having fear and overcoming it.
  • When working with girls, it’s about naming the fear, recognizing the fear and really zeroing in on what they are scared of. Often what we say we are scared of is not what we are actually scared of.
  • We want to give girls a language to enable them to unpack their fear.
  • Girls feel like they are on shaky ground socially.
  • We need to teach our girls to share their experiences— and see that the girls in class are more similar than different.
  • We need girls to hear that even when they think they know someone, there is much more to someone than meets the eye.
  • Girls are competing so much— there are so many ways that girls are against each other but not a lot of ways for them to work together. Sports allow them to work together.
  • Allow the coaches to coach and allow parents to be the soft place to land.
  • Name the fear- what are you really afraid of? Now, what’s the worst thing that could happen?
  • When you step out of your comfort zone and do the things that scare you, you build that “fearless” muscle and that confidence muscle.
  • Build your community of people that support you.
  • We must invite the boys into this conversation. We need boys and girls to support each other.
  • We must listen to girls.

Notable Quotables:

  • “When you’re being nice, you are looking into external validation and you have a constant drive to change who you are to fit in to whatever situation you are in. We want girls to have internal validation— not to go along with the crowd, seeking validation, approval or being terrified of upsetting anyone. 
  • It’s easy to be nice but it’s definitely not always easy to be kind because in order to be truly kind— to be looking out for others and doing your part  to create the best school climate— you have to do the work. It has to come from a place of being confident.
  • Kindness and confidence are more intertwined than we might think because to be truly kind, to set those boundaries and to look out for other people, you have to know that you are truly worth those boundaries without a need to seek other people’s approval.
  • The more we can help girls shift from being nice and the more we can help them build their confidence and figure out who they are and what’s worth speaking up for, that’s a shift worth making.
  • “There are always going to be fears and so much of what we want is on the other side of them.”
  • “Once you name your fear and unpack your fear, then you can begin to take the baby steps to overcome it.
  • “Girls come to realize that the girls they’ve been quick to judge and label and put into this 2-dimensional box are 3-dimensional people who have feelings and insecurities and passions and dreams just like them.”
  • “In sports, girls want parents to be their cheerleaders not their coaches.”
  • “Everytime you do something you didn’t think you can do or that scares you, it builds confidence and resiliency.”
  • “Girls are ‘talked to’ so much. I think the real power comes from listening. When a girl starts to open up and share, only then do you really get that glimpse in her life and how she’s feeling and what she’s dealing with”
  • “I think the most important thing we can do to help a girl to truly become fearless is to listen to her.”