During the school year, if you ask a young girl about her schedule, you may feel tired just listening to her regale all she has to do: tutoring, piano lessons, dance class, debate club and volunteering. The list of her activities is endless. I think we can all agree girls today are busy.
That is why summer time is a great opportunity for her to switch gears; to try new activities, play and even enjoy being "bored." It may also be a chance for you to reconnect with her and better understand her world.
Most parents I talk to really want to connect, yet will ask me, "How do I connect with my daughter who is tethered to her phone?" A great question because, let's face it, the dopamine hit she gets from Instagram stories and Snapchat is difficult competition.
Your summer could be the optimal time to experiment with new ways to cultivate connection with her, and, at the same time, nurture her self-confidence. Here's how.
When she looks up from her screen, she'll soon realize how good fresh air can feel. Encourage her to try outdoor experiences, whether biking, hiking or a simple walk in nature. The real time experiences outside, offering both vitamin D and joy, will always feel better than screen time.
Without rules, guidelines or expectations, let her be free to have fun through play. Whether she's five or 15, all girls benefit from free time that promotes creativity, freedom and exploration, not to mention a surge of serotonin. It is through play, not social media, that girls learn to let go of perfection and stress, and embrace new aspects of themselves.
Try something new
We are creatures of habit, and we like the safety of routine. Yet when we intentionally change up our daily rituals, we stimulate our brains and often learn new ideas, skills and interests. Plan new activities with your daughter. Try paddle boarding, in-line skating, reading (a real book) in the park, playing outdoor chess or twirling with a hula hoop; there are so many choices. To help girls who strive for perfection, try one new activity each day, and practice being "perfectly imperfect" together, using trial and error learning.
Make time for reflection
The summertime is the ideal opportunity to ask her to look back over her year and to notice just how far she has come. If you think about, she has probably changed a lot and in every way: academically, socially, emotionally, psychologically and physically. Go through each of these areas to get an understanding of the "whole girl."
Ask her questions such as, "What have you learned the most about yourself?" "How do you feel you have changed from September until now?" "What are your greatest memories of highlights?" "What setbacks do you remember and what did you learn from these?"
Self-reflection promotes self-awareness and confidence. Girls often don't realize how much they have grown or give themselves the credit they deserve.
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Help her explore her dreams
Without the stress of school and her busy schedule, she has more mental space to consider what she really wants. Summertime is a great time for her to dream. Ask her questions like, "What would do if you knew you couldn't fail?" and "If you could switch places with any person in the world, who would you chose and why?" It doesn't matter what she comes up with as long as the ideas are her own, not ours. As she talks, just listen. See what she dreams up.
Suggesting that your daughter trade her phone for connection time with you may be a tough sell. Try finding compromise with the 1:1 ratio: for every one hour of virtual activity she'll want, she gets to choose our hour of real world activity she may learn to want. Worth a try? Yes, and definitely worth the connection.
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