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What if my tween daughter is resistant to listening to me and shuts me out when I have something really important to share with her?
In the 15+ years I’ve worked with tween girls and their moms, I’ve heard a similar concern expressed time and again.
When moms of tween girls are preparing to share an approach with their daughter to support her in dealing with important topics, like: managing big emotions or learning how to overcome conflict, they very commonly express worry that their daughters will shut them out and not give things a chance.
What if I’ve had negative experiences with sharing this type of stuff in the past? What if I haven’t, but I’m still afraid of the reaction? I know this is so important. I don’t want to mess it up and I want to make sure I get it right the first time.
Whether the proposed idea is coming to see me for counseling, or joining a girls’ empowerment group, attending a mother-daughter mindfulness retreat, to something like sharing a self-esteem workbook at home, there’s the very real and understandable fear that her daughter will ignore the valuable information.
There’s the fear of the eye roll, the shrug off, the walking away, the door shutting- the DISCONNECTION.
And then there really won’t be a chance to get through to her.
This fear can stop a mom in her tracks and prevent her from sharing things that are really important.
The other thing all these moms share is a knowledge deep in her heart.
If her girl would just listen, just give it a chance, then she would see for herself…
Tools that help you manage difficult emotions aren’t something you need to run from. Talking through conflict can deepen connection. Learning how to overcome your challenges can lessen your pain. All of these things will prepare you for challenges to come.
AND, self-discovery is really fun and exciting. It helps you achieve your personal dreams.
Fueled by love they persist!
You don’t want to stop. You want to keep trying. You do keep trying.
That’s what is most important — to keep trying.
There are ways to get through to your daughter. There are ways to help her open up and want to listen- not just listen because she feels forced or learns that’s the only way to get you to stop for that time.
There are things you can do to offer your daughter something different than you had access to.
Some in the short term and more that require stamina, commitment and consistency- not just from your daughter but from you too. These are the ones that will create deep lasting transformation. They’re also the most rewarding.
What does your daughter enjoy doing? What makes her happy? What does she love so much that she’s okay with making mistakes because it’s that important to her to learn? What do you like doing together?
Use these things as entry points for conversations about difficult topics, introducing empowering tools and sharing the wisdom you’ve learned from your experience.
What does this look like?
Here’s an example scenario describing a tween girl who’s resistant to anything she detects is meant to ‘fix her self-esteem problems’.
Lisa’s daughter Rose is experiencing issues with self-esteem. She feels uncomfortable to act like her true self in front of her friends, because she thinks that no one will like her if she does.
Lisa has researched tons of wonderful self-esteem building ideas on Pinterest to share with Rose and they’ve been rejected before Rose even looks at them.
Since Lisa and Rose have had a tradition of movie nights since Rose was little, Lisa chooses a movie with an empowering message, that teaches an example of to build your confidence and follow your heart.
They watch Moana and do an art-therapy inspired craft project after, creating wall art using lyrics from their favorite songs from the movie.
To Rose, they watched a movie and did a fun project. To Lisa, she’s celebrating a big win! She’s helped build her daughter’s self-esteem and taken a step towards opening the door for more comfortable conversations about self-love and letting your true self shine.
Because of the limited access many of us had to self-development resources growing up and what we learn through our culture about what it means to be a ‘good girl’, it’s only natural to develop a mindset of fear around these issues.
Take some time to reflect on how your past experiences are affecting your mindset around the topics you want to share with your daughter.
How comfortable are you with expressing emotions? How often do you bring them into conversation in your relationship with your daughter?
It’s not unusual if you didn’t have access to personal growth tools and you have no previous script to work from. It’s not unusual if you have negative experiences and you doubt your ability to share these things with her.
IMPORTANT NOTE– These things are all okay! It’s okay not to know exactly the best ways to talk to your daughter about emotions and things that feel vulnerable. It’s wonderful to still be learning.
It actually would do your daughter a disservice if you didn’t make mistakes. Imagine trying to live up to an example of someone who never makes mistakes?
Part of the learning is learning to deal with mistakes and using them to help you grow. Isn’t that a relief?!
Here are some affirmations you can practice to move through your concerns. Feel free to create your own versions of these. Ones that resonate with your personal experience. The most important element of an affirmation is that it feels authentic to you. This will give it the most power to transform your thinking.
A lot of times the moms I work with end up learning they’d been making assumptions about how their daughter would react. Those assumptions, combined with the fear of disconnection, led to them stopping their attempts.
Once we worked through positive ways to approach the situation and they actually tried it, often times it was met with agreement and not what they had feared.
This isn’t always going to be the case, but sneaky assumptions can often mix in with reality.
Some questions you can ask yourself to do a quick assumption check: Have I ever had a negative experience of sharing something with my daughter and she shut me out? If so, was I able to work through it eventually?
Once you discover something that’s helped you or something that seems like it’s going be a perfect fit for your daughter, it’s thrilling! You’re sparked by all the potential and it’s normal to want to dive in ASAP.
It’s exciting to have something that feels like it will help that you just want to give it to your girl all at once. If you start with one thing at a time, it has less potential to be threatening. And, it gives you both a way to ease into a new way of learning together. If you’re inspired by something you learned from a parenting group or excited by some new empowerment resources, that’s great! Just remember to focus on starting with one tip or one activity at a time.
Be positive and casual in your approach about things that could feel vulnerable for your tween girl.
We’re going for the opposite of lecture here. Think back to a time you were lectured to and what happened- instant shut off, right?
If you bring the stress and fear you feel about her shutting you out into the conversation, that will create an environment where your daughter literally doesn’t have a chance to learn what you’re sharing. Her brain may register the situation as a threat.
If you present this type of learning in a fun, positive way – an authentic one- you’ll create an environment conducive to learning.
You’ll build the foundation that self development is fun and fulfilling, not scary and something to do in private, if at all.
Similar to presenting a positive mindset, this tip is more focused on you.
You get to have a blast raising your amazing, spirited daughter!
If you’re reading this, you’re a conscious person. You care about your daughter. You know the value of emotional intelligence and personal growth. You actively seek out tools to support your daughter and you also do this for yourself.
Enjoy the ride!
Enjoy growing alongside your daughter and learning from her as much as she learns from you.
Develop your consciousness together in ways that you love, that light you up and make you happy.
Enjoy sharing them with her.
Let your daughter see you having fun, reveling in the process of engaging in all the things you want for her.
Let her see you making mistakes and not knowing everything right away.
Let her see you being vulnerable in your pursuit of not being perfect.
The eye rolling can turn into focused attention, the shrugs into hugs (couldn’t help myself with that one :-)) and that door doesn’t have to close in a way that threatens your relationship- just in pursuit of self-discovery and independence.
We’re so lucky our girls have access to the kinds of creative resources that we didn’t have readily available to us growing up!
I’ve been really inspired by the new book The Superkids Activity Guide to Conquering Every Day and the movement of empowering children and families that’s building around it. The book is full of activities to manage moods, improve focus and organization and more.
Tween girls will appreciate how the book is written to them and how it gives them concrete ways to help them communicate their needs to you. I have a copy pre-ordered for my 9-year old niece and I can’t wait for it to arrive!
Imagine how transformational it can be to learn from an early age that all kinds of emotions can be not only positive, but what will help to change the world.
I created this conversation game to help you and your daughter connect in a fun way, while also learning about each other and opening the door to deeper conversations. Access the game by signing up below and you’ll also be added to my raising confident girls newsletter!
What’s worked for you when connecting with your tween daughter about more serious topics? Share a victory in the comments below!