Raising Awesome Girls: Helping Her Build a Healthy Community
Just in time for Women’s History Month 2021, we partnered with our local Girl Scout council, Girl Scouts - Diamonds of Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas, to create a three-part series on raising awesome girls. Each post will focus on a different theme: encouraging girls to be leaders, helping your girl find her passion at school (complete with an at-home STEM project) and supporting your girl’s mental health.
Thanks to the Girl Scout Research Institute and Girl Scouts USA blog “Raising Awesome Girls,” Girl Scouts - Diamonds helped us put together a great resource that we are excited to share with all families.
Today, we offer tips to help support your girl’s mental health as she navigates anxiety, online communication and more.
LRF: What are some common mental health challenges that girls face today?
Girl Scouts - Diamonds: In a 2019 study—months before COVID-19 was even a blip on most people’s radar—more than one in three girls in the U.S. said they felt extremely anxious on a daily basis. Add a global pandemic, separation from her friends and social unrest, girls are truly in crisis. Having the camaraderie and friendships that come from being in a local group or club (even a virtual one!), can help show your girl that others are having similar issues to hers and that she’s not alone.
LRF: How has the pandemic contributed to these challenges?
Girl Scouts - Diamonds: With the global pandemic, it can seem like everything fun or even meaningful has been canceled or put on hold. With holidays, school and social activities drastically changed for your girl over the year, she could be feeling more isolated than ever. It’s important to dive into your girl’s world and acknowledge her feelings of frustration to help her feel less alone.
LRF: What are some pitfalls of online communication and connection?
Girl Scouts - Diamonds: Your girl is living in a digital world. Although she may have a great time constantly texting and interacting on social media, she may still feel disconnected from her friends and peers. Additionally, the over-sharing trend complicates and confuses social relationships, sometimes leading to more superficial connections and fewer close, meaningful ones—which is not ideal for anyone, let alone children, who rely on the strength of friendships as they grow.
LRF: How can parents encourage their girl to build a safe community online?
Girl Scouts - Diamonds: It’s natural for your girl to want to be online where her friends are, but it’s important to start talking to her early about digital safety. Many parents delay talking to their children about digital safety until they’re older and more connected online, but it’s never too early to start the conversation. Just as you teach your toddler not to talk to or go anywhere with a stranger, you should tell her the same rules apply online.
LRF: Why should supporting your child’s social connection be a top priority?
Girl Scouts - Diamonds: There’s no doubt you’ve always wanted your daughter to have friends, but given the benefits of friendship, you might want to take more of a role in helping her foster these relationships. Recent studies have shown when your girl has a friend by her side, physical obstacles seem smaller and less daunting, she’ll be motivated to work harder and aim higher, school transitions go a lot more smoothly, her stress levels go down and her general health improves, and physical or emotional pain feels a bit more manageable.
LRF: What are other important ways to support your girl’s mental health?
Girl Scouts - Diamonds: Every girl is different; naturally, every girl has different mental health needs. Fostering a social dynamic where your girl feels she can come to you about challenges she’s facing and feel heard without her perspective being minimalized is an important step in supporting your girl’s mental health.
LRF: Any other healthy habits to take on as a family this year?
Girl Scouts - Diamonds: Healthy habits are a family affair! Have a family conversation to set goals and make a plan to help each other achieve them. Want your family to be more active? Plan to take walks together! Want your family to eat healthier meals? Make grocery shopping fun and involve your girl in helping pick out new vegetables to try.