By Jackie Burrell
Sunday, May 10th, 2009 at 9:16 pm in Teens.
In today’s Times and Trib, we talked to Prof. Stephen Hinshaw, author of “The Triple Bind: Saving Our Teenage Girls from Today’s Pressures,” and Liz Funk, the 20-year-old author of “Supergirls Speak Out: Inside the Secret Crisis of Overachieving Girls,” about the pressures that face teenage girls today. Read the story here, then read on for what parents can do to help.
- Long before the teen years, teach your child to think critically about the media images she’s bombarded with: Do all girls look like the ones on TV or in ads? How much time does it take Blake Lively to look like Serena van der Woodsen? How realistic is that life? What are makeovers and what’s the troubling message being driven home?
- Push activities that encourage self-discovery, not rote achievement, says Hinshaw, and that encourage a wider sense of community, especially volunteer work. Spend time together, not just driving to yet another tournament, but actually talking and connecting.
- Talk about the realities – that 25 percent of young women have experienced major depression, attempted suicide, indulged in binge eating or cutting, says Hinshaw. “We’ve got to talk about the problem and deal with it.”
- Watch for Supergirl warning signs, says Funk: Is your daughter constantly tired? Irritable? Drinking too much coffee or Red Bull in the morning? Does she berate herself?
- Encourage your daughter to take time for herself. Let her know you value her for herself.
- Lower the pressure on college apps. “Today’s teens have pressure on them to score well on the SAT tests,” says Funk, “build an impressive activities resume, get perfect grades, and investigate their chances at getting into the best colleges, coming from all angles.” Don’t add to it.