Monday, 6 Feb, 2023

Smart parenting: 2 exercises that build confidence in girls | Marisa Porges | Big Think

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Smart parenting: 2 exercises that build confidence in girls
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As the head of an all-girls school in Pennsylvania, Marisa Porges has dedicated her life to educating young women and preparing them for the future.

Two things that parents can do at home to build confidence and nurture girls' ability to speak up according to Porges are to have them practice ordering for the family, and to encourage them to develop a pitch when making a request. Providing feedback on the pitch becomes more meaningful and memorable than simply saying yes or no.

While this advice is great for parents of boys and girls, it is especially important for parents of young women. A recent study showed that 75 percent of high-performing women executives say they have felt imposter syndrome at some point in their careers. The ability to speak up, ask for what they want, and to use their voices confidently will be valuable skills for these future entrepreneurs and CEOs.

Marisa Porges PhD is the Head of School for The Baldwin School, a 130-year-old all girls school outside of Philadelphia, renowned for academic excellence and for preparing girls to be leaders and change-makers. Dr. Porges served in the Obama White House; was a visiting fellow at Harvard Kennedy School and the Council on Foreign Relations, where her research focused on worldwide counterterrorism efforts; and served in the U.S. Navy as one of eight female aviators in an air wing of two hundred.

Her latest book What Girls Need: How to Raise Bold, Courageous, and Resilient Women at

MARISA PORGES: One thing that I always get asked is how to help nurture young women's voice and their ability to ask and speak up. And it's something that is so critical for our girls to learn, and it's a skill that will help them in school of course, but any place they head next. And I think it's so important to think about easy ways we can build this into everyday life for parents. And so one great idea I have from the girls at my school is how to help them practice speaking up and asking in everyday life.

What does this look like? It looks like the next time you go to order pizza or Chinese food, or you're out at a restaurant when we finally get to go out or at the amusement park, or in a museum. It's about putting your girl, yes when she's young, when she might be an introvert, when she's gonna be nervous, putting her front and center coaching her, but then having her speak on behalf of the family. It's something that parents often overlook. It seems silly, it seems unnecessary, it seems like it'll likely take a few minutes longer to get the answer you want. But girls remember that moment, and then they practice, and they build the muscle memory they need later on to count on when it becomes more important that they can speak out.

When it comes to asking, a great idea for parents is to build the practice of asking into everyday life, what does that mean? That means the next time your child comes to you and says, I want something, right? The endless asks, no matter what your answer will be, and you might have already decided have her take a few minutes, send her off for 30 minutes, maybe an hour, buys yourself some time, and have her come back after a set period and pitch you. Make sure she has three reasons explain to her that data often works best, send her off to do some research, and then have her come back and explain three reasons why perhaps presenting the downsides too that she wants whatever new toy, new app, new opportunity for a weeknight sleepover, whatever it might be. And again, the answer doesn't matter. Maybe you probably know already what you wanted to do, but it's the practice of asking, the practice of showing her how important it is and then giving her feedback to say, huh, I liked that you showed me a bit of research, that you spent time drawing a picture that you explained why it was so important to you. Those moments stick out particularly for young women, and years later they'll look back and thank you for you making sure they're gonna be the best pitching person on their team, the best person with a pitch, the best entrepreneur that's out there on the market. So something to remember for every parent.

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