She has this foam trucker that says “Donut Worry.” And it’s amazing. She keeps a streak of red in her blonde hair. And it’s totally rockin’. She wears cut-offs and knee socks with animals on them. And sometimes the socks don’t match.
She couldn’t care less.
She owns all of her choices. And, according to experts, I’m watching her live through the most confident time in her life. A girl’s confidence, for life, peaks at age 9, expert say.
What a sad statistic.
But if you think about it, it makes sense. You can almost witness confidence peel away as girls age. And that unraveling is even more pronounced now, as girls mature in an era of ruthless and inauthentic social media.
Statistics point to an alarming increase in self-harming behavior among girls between the ages of 10 and 14 – I don’t have the stats in front of me – but the increase is a sharp one compared to the previous generation of girls that age. And experts are pointing to social media as the culprit.
Beyond cyberbullying, girls who are engaged on social media are more apt to be exposed to filtered and adjusted photography, making everyone look amazing all the time. And they’re being exposed to only the high points, furthering a belief that life is perfect – all the time – for other people.
Back in the day, only supermodels got the airbrushed treatment. Now anyone and their mother can do it – and do.
Soon, she’ll start to care if and what boys think about her. She’ll wonder about certain clothes, if they will be perceived the right way. She’ll have a fear of missing out. She might even think about conforming, because of peer pressure, and that would be a heartbreakingly real struggle.
I’m pretty determined, though, to stretch this peak of confidence out as long as it will go. We’ll keep her involved with things that fuel her self-esteem, be it athletics or smaller projects in the yard or in the kitchen. She loves to cut things, which, for a girl with the nickname “killer” should not be a surprise.
She needs to know life isn’t fair. That’s it tough. That is can be sad. But that she can power through all of it. That she’s pretty, but also witty, weird and badass.
We’ll make sure she knows how capable, smart and strong she is. Expose her to the real world as much as possible and always make time to talk about “life,” which is what she asks to do quite a bit. I’ll eat it up as long as I can.
And hope that these confidence statistics improve over time. Because nine years is a pretty brief time to feel good about yourself. It’s a blink. Over a lifetime.
But based on my experience, it comes back around. In bits.