Ten Ways to Create Hardiness Zones
LISTEN TO GIRLS
Allowing girls to tell you what they need gives them ownership of their story. Listening means not assuming you know all the answers or that your way is the right way. Pay close attention to what girls are saying and ask them to elaborate on their thoughts and feelings.
REMIND YOURSELF THERE IS NO TYPICAL GIRL
In spite of what the media shows us every day, girls and women come in all shapes and sizes, from diverse family backgrounds and social situations, and have different needs and interests. Value these differences and encourage girls to draw on their experiences to teach one another.
TEACH GIRLS (and all youth!) TO BE CRITICAL CONSUMERS OF MEDIA
Teach girls to question the narrow images (girls as sexy, as divas, or boy-crazy shoppers) they see on TV, in the movies, online, in toy stores, the mall, and in magazines. Offer them examples of real people who are not constrained by stereotypes.
STOP WORRYING ABOUT YOUR LOOKS
Girls learn about womanhood by watching and listening to the women in their lives. When you make negative comments about your body, you’re teaching girls that women judge themselves and other women on their looks. Girls will learn to love their bodies if they see women doing the same.
DO YOUR OWN WORK
Before “helping” girls, women first need to work on our own stuff. We can’t help girls practice healthy conflict resolution, teach them to stand up to bullies, or expect them to create healthy relationships if we can’t do these things ourselves.
USE TEACHABLE MOMENTS
If your daughter comes home upset about an injustice she experienced or witnessed, use that situation to brainstorm ways she can fix things. Again, listen first. Don’t overreact or jump in to fix the problem for her. Think and plan together.
ASSUME SOLIDARITY BETWEEN GIRLS
Today, the media is rife with catty, backstabbing girls. As a result, it’s getting harder for girls to trust one another. Affirm girls’ relational strengths and their potential for coalition and collective action. Provide stories about and create opportunities to see and experience such girl power in action.
ENGAGE GIRLS’ ANGER & HELP CHANNEL IT PRODUCTIVELY
Contrary to messages girls are getting from everywhere, anger should not be silenced. Help girls identify anger, know how it feels, and how to stay clear and centered in their disagreements. Offer constructive ways to express strong feelings – ie. speaking up directly and respectfully, writing letters, or organizing a rally.
ENCOURAGE GIRLS TO CREATE SOCIAL CHANGE
One of the most powerful things you can help girls realize is their own ability to create change. Support girls in their efforts to make change in their schools and communities. Teach them to draw up a petition, show them how to write a letter to the editor, help think about other ways to speak out. Show girls their opinions matter.
OFFER SAFE PLACES TO PRACTICE & GROW
We all make mistakes. Girls are likely to learn from their mistakes if they have a safe, non-judgmental place to practice, try on new roles, and find their own voices.
Hardy Girls Healthy Women takes girls* seriously through year-round, statewide programs that put the power in their hands to challenge a society that ignores their brilliance. We dare adult allies to join us in standing with girls.
* self-identifying girls and gender expansive folks