From Daisy years to Ambassadors, Girl Scout troop leaders and volunteers help girls navigate a whole range of emotional, physical, and psychological changes. While we often know where to begin with problems like friendship troubles, balancing their schedules, or even body image and self-esteem issues, there are some topics that are a little more daunting. We are role models for these girls, whether we intended to be or not, and that can be a lot of pressure. Luckily, there’s a fantastic Girl Scout resource out there to help us learn how to tackle any issue our girls might face.
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Raising Awesome Girls is a section on the Girl Scouts website that’s filled with great articles to help you do just that… raise an awesome girl. Girl Scouts Parent Engagement Officer, Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald, provides her expertise as a psychologist to help Girl Scout leaders be the best mentors they can be. Whether you want to help your daughter recover from a skinned knee that she got on the playground at school, help her keep track of her finances, or start a conversation with your entire troop about bullying, you’ll find an answer on this website.
Raising Awesome Girls adds new articles regularly, so you can bookmark the page and come back whenever you need a little more inspiration for whatever challenge you are facing with your daughter or the girls in your troop. Check out the site to see if they have some insight into your pain points; here are a few articles that really helped me as a troop leader and as a parent:
When the School Bully Turns Out to Be Your Kid
Sounds terrifying, doesn’t it? What do you do if, despite your best efforts, it’s your daughter that’s causing an issue? Hearing from two of my good friends (and Girl Scout moms) my daughter was upsetting their girls was disturbing to say the least. Both girls were ready to leave my troop because they didn’t want to be around my daughter anymore! I had to act fast to help the girls resolve the situation, and save their friendship. This article on Raising Awesome Girls suggested I take a deep breath, focus on the issue at hand, and gave me advice on helping the girls resolve the issue on their own.
I was able to take the advice to heart, ask both girls their stories, and explained to the three of them that every girl has a unique personality and that not all personalities mesh, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t still be friends. They were able to make up, and strengthened their friendship in the process.
I realized that day how important it is to talk to my daughter every day about how she can be more empathetic and to think about what she says and does when interacting with her peers.
Destroying Gender Stereotypes Starts at Home
Chores are important for all kids, no matter their gender. Knowing how to do your own laundry or clean the bathroom (both things my mom had to show me how to do mere weeks before I went to college, and I still had no idea which cleaning solution to use) or cook a basic meal are important adult skills, and are not tied to gender in any way.
My daughters have always liked to help around the house, but I’ve helped make sure that while they will know more than I did by the time they leave the house, they also don’t feel burdened by housework on account of their gender. This year, my 12-year-old daughter started doing her own laundry and taking the trash out to the curb. She also has to get her laundry started on Friday morning and monitor when it’s done so she can fold it and then put it away. But this is not a matter of Mom and Dad need help. This is a matter of she’s old enough to be responsible and contribute to the success of our household. She doesn’t get paid for completing these chores. There are additional chores she can do around the house that can earn her money if she’s saving for something. There are no “Mom chores” and “Dad chores.” We all do everything, and she understands that.
Four Times to Let Your Daughter Fail
The only time I demand perfection is with myself. I believe in trying really hard, failing sometimes, and learning and growing along the way.
My kids have forgotten their homework at home and “lost” assignments, only to realize later that it was crumpled up in the bottom of their backpack. They’ve scored low on a test because they didn’t study like they should’ve. Is it the end of the world? No. Did they learn from it? Yes. You want your kids to be successful, but sometimes in order to be successful, they have to make mistakes. Letting them take risks in places where failure is not the end of the world, or make mistakes they could have avoided with your help can actually be healthy for your kids.
My middle school daughter wanted to try out for the school talent show with a couple of band friends. Although I know her flute playing skills had improved, I wasn’t sure if she was ready for the pressure of a competition—with cash prizes! She’s out of her league, I thought. They made the audition, and she and her friends now had two months to prepare for the actual competition. At first, I asked her every day if she and her friends were practicing at lunch. She said no. I told her that she needed to be a leader (you are a Girl Scout, after all!) and set up the practice times with these kids.
Then a light bulb went off… why do I care if she wins a cash prize in a middle school talent show? She’s clearly content just being in the show, so that’s all that matters, right? If she wants to win, she will set up the practices and make the effort. If they sound terrible, she’ll learn. I realized that the victory is in her self-confidence for even trying out for the talent show.
Whether you’re raising your own daughter, or helping to raise a whole troop of girls, Raising Awesome Girls is an incredible resource for insightful, compassionate parenting and mentoring tips. Click around: the answer to your worries might be just around the corner.
What to do next:
- For related reads, check out GSUSA’s Raising Awesome Girls blog for yourself!
- From helping shy girls open up to building an inclusive troop culture, see how The Trailhead is here to help you build strong girls.
- Take some time to understand the likes, needs, and abilities of girls at different ages with the “Understanding Healthy Development in Girls” section of Volunteer Essentials.
Angela Borchert—Angela just completed her seventh year as a Girl Scout leader in Vacaville/Travis Air Force Base service unit. She leads Juniors and Cadettes and loves the wide range of activities and interests that both groups have and the challenges they provide her along the way. Girl Scouts have helped her embrace glue guns and dirt while taking her on her first kayaking adventure. She’s been camping more times in the past five years than she has in her entire life thanks to Girl Scouts!