Building Resilience in Girls

This year is taking a toll on our girls.

Girls are already twice as likely to develop mood disorders as boys. Political and racial unrest, concerns about our environment and Covid 19 – with its accompanying fear for the health of family members, uncertainty about the future, disruption of day to day events and disconnection from meaningful relationships – are not helping. “Anxiety increases as social bonds weaken. Societies with low levels of social integration produce adults prone to anxiety.” In fact, lack of social trust is the highest predictor of anxiety. And here is the kicker, we have known for years that “the disruption of social ties disproportionately affects women and girls.” Meanwhile,“growth-fostering relationships allow us to be authentic with our thoughts and feelings in ways that make us feel empowered to deal with conflict or manage change.” Girls around the world are surrounded by change and conflict – in many cases extreme – yet unsupported by the growth-fostering relationships that would normally strengthen them.

What can we do to help the girls we care about?

  1. Check in with them regularly to normalize talking about their fears and other feelings.
  2. Create as many safe and meaningful opportunities for them to connect with good friends as possible.
  3. Prioritize family dinners, games nights and other fun activities to minimize time spent alone or in unhealthy activities.
  4. Teach your girls resiliency tips. At BRAVE we teach a simple A,A,B,B,B Model. 

Acts of kindness: Granny was right on this one. Doing something thoughtful for someone else does make us feel better. Help your girls to make it a habit to do something nice for someone every day—the quirkier, more thoughtful and more secretive the better.

Authentic feelings: On the other hand Granny missed the mark if she told you that anger is bad. Or sadness, or any emotion for that matter. Well-balanced people experience the full range of emotions and are able to identify them for what they are. Being able to acknowledge, “I am feeling angry or sad” and process why we feel that way and what we want to do about it is a sign of maturity. It is the act of a person courageous enough to be authentic. 

Beauty: While it is important for BRAVE leaders to be aware of the challenges our world faces, it is equally important for us to see its beauty. Insist on life giving activities like walks in nature, reading great literature, trying activity, or creating something from nothing. 

Blessing: Positive Psychologists, exploring countless approaches to well-being discovered that one strategy outshines the others for simplicity and effectiveness. Every night before bed reflect on three things that we are grateful for from that day. This practice not only enhances our sleep (helping us cope with whatever the new day will bring) but also decreases negative thought patterns, builds resiliency and develops our sense of wellbeing.

Breathing: Intentional, slow breaths not only calm our bodies, they also help us to quiet our anxious thoughts. As a family learn to take a slow breath in through your nose while focusing on filling your lower, and then upper, lungs. Hold this breath for a slow count of four then exhale through pursed lips while consciously relaxing each part of your body. Repeat in a gentle, calming way. Remind everyone that if they  forget and begin to take shallow breaths they can simply start again.