Girls are not nearly as fragile as we so frequently treat them. They do not need to be rescued all of the time. Even though it can be difficult for parents to watch, it's important to let our girls fail every once in awhile. And then encourage them to pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and try again. It seems that we often teach this important skill to boys, but not to girls. This is so important in school. School is not meant to be easy. The whole idea is that the child is stretching. That is how you learn. Putting in effort to try to understand a new concept or remember a new formula-that is how information is solidified in one's mind-how it moves from someone's short-term memory into their long-term memory.
The way in which this is taught is also important. Don't expect that you can give a girl (or a boy) an incredibly difficult task and ask them to solve it within 10 minutes without any help. All kids need to be able to learn within what Lev Vygotsky the founder of cultural-historical psychology, called "the zone of proximal development". Kids need to be able to stretch themselves when they are learning, but not so much that the solution feels unattainable. Providing support when children think something is too hard is what Vygotsky called 'scaffolding'. It's not rescuing a child by giving them the answer; it's giving them clues so they can find the answer themselves.
So teach your kids to stretch-all kids. They can handle it. They are tougher than you think. They are tougher than they think. And if you have a girl, do the same thing for her. Although it's tough to watch your sweet girl fall, the strength she will feel after getting back up and succeeding is incredibly empowering.
Enjoy and tell me what you think! Leave your thoughts in the comments, tweet me: @fpschDrSweeney or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org