What Women Can Learn from the Confidence Gap in Girls

So as an Executive Coach who has a deep passion for helping Women Professionals find their voice, as well as a Mom who is trying to help her daughter powerfully navigate the challenges of her teen years to emerge with both confidence and compassion, I am continually amazed by the how the later informs the former.

As highlighted in an insightful NYT article “The Confidence Gap for Girls: 5 Tips for Parents of Tween and Teen Girls” (link below), by the age of 14 girls’ confidence levels fall by 30% — perfectionism, overthinking and people-pleasing kick in, typically resulting in confidence grinding to a halt.

The advice given for teen girls to cultivate confidence is just as useful for women professionals. By shifting to action-orientation vs. perfectionism and embracing the “risk, failure, recovery and mastery” cycle, confidence-building can be nurtured and encouraged.

It’s not easy to embrace risk and failure and to turn off the negative “gremlin” messages we tell ourselves, but here are some useful ideas from the article:

Trade Your Comfort Zone for Your Danger Zone:

Comfort zones inhibit growth — move beyond what you do well and tackle something scary! Make a worst possible outcomes list. Look at your fears — often times it makes it obvious that the worst is not likely to happen and that you can handle it if it does.

Take the Fear out of Failure:

Failure will strike. It’s essential for you to learn how to move through it, normalize it and rebound. After something goes wrong, take a break whether for 30 minutes or 3 hours. Allow your brain to switch gears and pause. When you are ready, you’ll be in a better place to put things into perspective and create an action plan to move forward and learn from any mistakes.

Retrain Your Brain:

Overthinking can be brutal — it hijacks our head and feelings and fosters risk avoidance. By recognizing the way our brains work is the most powerful move we can make toward retraining and rewiring. Try to pay attention and catch yourself when you’re in this loop. There are some excellent suggestions on how to breakout of this mentioned in this article.

In the end, realize the path will be bumpy, but it’s to our advantage, because we will be learning and growing, building stamina and confidence. What’s particularly exciting to me is that when more of us do nurture our confidence, what glorious examples we will be for the generations of girls coming up behind us!




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