It’s Tough To Be A Girl!
Your alarm goes off at 6:15 in the morning, it’s time to get ready for school. But you’re just so dang tired, because you were up until midnight writing a 2-page essay, completing your part of your group homework assignment (and fixing everybody else’s work), and studying for your math test.
You roll yourself out of bed, hop in the shower, and get dressed. There’s not enough time to eat breakfast, so you grab a banana and granola bar and eat it on the way to the bus stop.
You check your social media pages while waiting at the bus stop, because you NEED to know what is going on in your friend’s lives.
You sleepily make it through the day, running from one class to another. You avoid drinking water (or anything for that matter), because there’s not enough time for a pit stop between classes.
There’s another lock down drill (you’re used to them because they happen every month). You understand its necessity, but fear for its reality.
At lunch, your friends ask if you want to go to the beach with them on Saturday. You want to! But you hate to miss practice. But you want to have fun with your friends from school, too. What will your classmates think if you say no to another invite??
You head to your science class and get your grade from yesterday’s test. A 91%. That’s not good enough, you could (should) have done better.
The final bell rings and you rush to get on the bus. You try to do some homework on the way home, but it’s really not much time to get anything done. At least, not done well enough for an A.
You run through the door at home, change into your gym clothes, grab an apple and hop in mom’s car and head to practice.
Practice is a frustrating one today! You just can’t seem to stay on the beam during your full turn, you can’t stick your bar dismount, and your ankle hurts every time you land a tumbling pass.
You don’t want to say anything to your coaches because you want them to know you’re a tough cookie.
You don’t want to say anything to your parents because you don’t want to miss the meet that’s coming up in 2 weeks.
You push through, because you have to, it’s what you do, it’s who you are, you’re a strong female athlete!
After practice, you heat up tonight’s dinner in the microwave…pasta. You eat quickly because you still have homework to do (and what you did earlier in the day was NOT GOOD ENOUGH to turn in).
You run up to your room, take another quick shower, skim through your social media pages again and wonder ‘How are all of these girls so much prettier than me???’
You settle into your desk and do homework for another 2 hours, until it’s all perfect enough to turn in. It’s not ready until it’s perfect. You have to get an A.
It’s midnight again, and finally time for bed. But not before looking through your social media pages..one..last..time.
It is tough to be a girl, especially a teenage girl!
Every single day, teenage girls have to experience the stressors of social pressure from school friends, excelling in their school work, striving for the best grades, bullying, anxiety, lack of sleep, cell phone distractions, social media comparisons, and a strong drive to be the best athlete in their sport.
But they are just not equipped to handle of all these stressors!
Literally, their brains are STILL developing!
The part of their brain (the pre-frontal cortex) that helps them process negative information is not done developing until their late 20’s!
Because of this, they can’t make great decisions, can’t avoid risky behavior, and can’t process information that is negative.
Add on top of this….a change in hormone levels due to puberty. Yikes!
There is a hormone that, in adults, is released to help manage and decrease anxiety. However, in teenagers, this hormone has the opposite effect when released. It does not calm anxiety, it creates MORE anxiety!
Teenage girls are literally wired for more stress.
Add on top of this….a sports injury…..
Most teenage girls define themselves by the sport in which they excel. You ask any teenage athlete to describe themselves and their first response is simply…
“I’m a gymnast.”
“I’m a cheerleader.”
“I’m a dancer.”
“I’m a soccer player.”
When they experience an injury that takes them out of their sport (for any amount of time), they suddenly lose their identity.
They become lost in who they are because their one constant, their main identity, is gone when they cannot fully participate in the ONE thing that they use to define themselves.
So what do you, as a parent, do? How can you help them?
#1. Provide love and support – be there for her, listen to her when she talks, listen to what she is saying.
#2. Remind yourself that she is not a “small adult”. She is still growing and her thinking is different from yours. She simply can not think like you, an adult.
#3. Remember she is a child, but wants to be treated like an adult. Find the balance.
#4. Help her manage her stressors. Help her find a successful balance between school, her sport, her friends, and her FUN time. Successful teenage female athletes strive for perfection in EVERYTHING they do. In her developing brain, if it’s not perfect, it’s not good enough. She needs your help in managing this.
#5. Emphasize the importance of sleep. Teenage girls need at least 9 hours of sleep each night. Lack of sleep can lead to poor performance in school and sport, behavior problems, depression, decreased attention, an increased risk of injury, and delayed healing and injury recovery.
#6. Don’t be judgmental or dismissive. Advise and explain decisions to her.
#7. Point out the positives, EVERY time. She can process positive feedback, not negative feedback. Show her what she is doing well, what she is doing right.
#8. Help her track her progress toward her own goals. This will show her how far she has come.
#9. Let her be an active participant in her decision making.
#10. Show her that she is more than her sport. Remind her of the other “things” she is…smart, free-spirited, funny, energetic, positive, motivating, inspiring, a leader, strong, important, etc.
#11. Ask for help. You don’t have to go at it alone. Build a “team” for you and her. Find support from other parents and coaches. Build a supportive medical team to help you navigate the physical and psychological effects of an athletic injury.
This is where I come in!
I help female athletes and their parents navigate the added stressors that come with an athletic injury. I help busy female teens/tweens and their parents to gain support, to prevent and manage injuries in order to stay involved in their sport or activity.
My goal is to keep them involved in practice as much as possible. Where they are surrounded by their friends and team mates (what they consider to be their support system). This way they can continue to be a part of something!
My goal is educate her and her parents on how to navigate and overcome these stressors. I focus on the positives, remind her how far she has come, show her the progress she has made toward reaching her goals.
My goal is to support her and her parents. An athletic injury is always an unplanned event which throws everything into a tailspin. My job is to be the constant support while moving her forward, back to the gym, likely stronger than before. Also, to help her parents know how to help her.
If you would like me to be a part of “her team” contact me.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can discuss her needs.
Let’s get the conversation started.
Let’s figure out the best plan for her.
Let’s support her goals and her decisions.
Let’s help her manage her stressors.
Let me help you navigate this journey.
Visit www.motusvitapt.org for more information on what I do and how I can help!
Click Here to join my Email list for all things related to physical therapy, gymnastics, cheerleading, teen health, and female athletes!
|Photo credit: www.abbeysaxton.com|