TEACHING GIRLS TO BE GREAT COMPETITORS: WSJ 4/13/19

Sharing this Wall Street Journal article. Our take — Girls CAN and should be unapologetically competitive and CAN be friends.

TEACHING GIRLS TO BE GREAT COMPETITORS: WSJ 4/13/19
By
Jennifer Breheny Wallace
https://www.wsj.com/articles/teaching-girls-to-be-great-competitors-11555061400

April 12, 2019 5:30 a.m. ET
Young girls today are taught to believe that they can be anything they want to be: “Girl power!” But reaching for the top requires a healthy competitive drive, and new research shows that many girls have trouble managing the stress and emotions that go along with competition. This reluctance to compete can have an impact on girls’ educational choices, career trajectories and eventual earning power, contributing to the historic pay gap between men and women. Fortunately, psychologists say that parents can help girls to become more comfortable with competition—as long as the focus is on the right kind of striving against others.

For many young people today, society’s definition of success is narrow: getting straight A’s, gaining admission to an elite college and launching a good career. Girls know that they are competing with their friends for educational and work opportunities. But while most boys are socialized to think that competing is fun, even when battling it out with their closest friends, most girls are conditioned from a young age to work together to reach their goals.

A study of nearly 60 affluent girls in grades six to 12, published last year in the Journal of Adolescent Research, found that they feel pressure not to acknowledge their aspirations openly, which adds to their stress. For two consecutive years, researchers conducted in-depth interviews with students, parents and teachers from two independent, single-sex schools to discover the major stress factors facing the young girls. One significant source was “peer competition” and a lack of adult guidance on how to navigate being part of a close-knit but competitive community. According to the researchers, “Many of these girls talked about heightened anxiety and stress and even low self-esteem as a consequence of feeling like they were not meeting the high standards and keeping up with their peers.”

Lead researcher Renee Spencer, a professor of social work at Boston University, says that competition is “more complex for girls because their relationships are so central to their well-being.” Girls can struggle to reconcile their desire to be a strong competitor with being a good friend, says child psychologist Lisa Damour, author of ”Under Pressure: Confronting the Epidemic of Stress and Anxiety in Girls,” in part because of the mixed messages they receive. “Parents sometimes conflate being ambitious with being unkind, so, without even realizing it, they may signal that girls should temper their striving in order to protect them from criticism,” says Dr. Damour. Adults have been so pointed about directing girls to be nice, she says, that many girls don’t even know that having a competitive drive can be good for them.

Researchers distinguish between healthy and unhealthy competitive feelings. A healthy competitive attitude is driven by a personal desire to excel, finds joy in competing against worthy opponents and is associated with high self-esteem and prosocial behavior. Unhealthy competition, on the other hand, is driven by the desire to display superiority over an opponent, relishes an opponent’s loss and is associated with low self-esteem, anger, depression and anxiety.

Which type of competition a young person engages in can depend on the tools they have to manage the complex feelings involved. In a study of adolescents presented at the 2018 Canadian Conference on Developmental Psychology, researchers Tamara Humphrey and Tracy Vaillancourt examined the relationship among competitive behavior, jealousy and aggression in 615 Canadian adolescents from seventh grade to 12th grade. Using self-reported questionnaires, they found that on average, the boys reported more unhealthy competitive behavior than the girls, but the girls were more jealous and more likely to use indirect aggression, such as exclusion and gossip, than the boys. Unhealthy competitive behavior in lower grades predicted higher levels of jealousy in grades 10 and 11, and greater use of direct and indirect aggression in 12th grade.

Parents can teach girls to reframe jealous feelings and use them instead for inspiration.

Dr. Vaillancourt, a professor of psychology at the University of Ottawa in Ontario, says that when we compare ourselves to someone who is better at some skill or activity, we feel jealous, and it is tempting to try to repair our fractured ego by employing indirect aggression, like cutting our competitor down. What is harder, she says, “is accepting when we are falling short and finding ways to remedy it, like working or training harder and building more relationships.”

So what can parents do to help encourage healthy competition in girls and discourage the unhealthy kind? Dr. Vaillancourt says that they can teach girls to reframe jealous feelings and use them instead for inspiration. Instead of lingering on negative emotions, they can ask “How did my opponent achieve this and what can I learn from them to better myself?”

When girls are young, parents can reinforce the idea that being a fierce competitor isn’t only acceptable but desirable by modeling healthy competitive behavior. Dr. Damour says, “When you’re playing games with your children, instead of letting them win, which sends the signal that beating them is unkind, parents can play to win while also being encouraging and celebrating their daughters whenever they make a smart move.”

For adolescent girls, it is helpful to make a clear distinction between being an aggressive competitor and being an aggressive person, notes Dr. Damour. “When I’m watching the Olympics with my daughters,” she says, “I point out how the female athletes push each other so hard when they’re competing, but when they come across the finish line, they immediately congratulate and hug one another.”

Girls need to internalize the message that being a competitive person and a good, supportive friend don’t have to be at odds with one another, says Dr. Damour: “They can be felt one right after the other.”

Kathrine Switzer: First Woman to Enter the Boston Marathon

For the Dragonwing team, this video makes us emotional – especially when Jock Semple tries to pull her out. Kathrine’s quote “all of a sudden this was very important … nobody believes I can do this.. and if I don’t finish, people will think all women can’t.” she finished in 4 hrs and 20 min. KV Switzer (and whoever wears #261 -how lucky are you!)

You can watch the video here.

Kathrine Switzer: First Woman to Enter the Boston Marathon

Nutrition for athletic girls is a source of confidence!

March is National Nutrition Month and we’d like to share tips on good nutrition for girl athletes.  Balance is key. It is important to include lean protein, nutrient rich carbohydrates (whole grain, non GMO if possible), low-fat dairy, fruits, and vegetables in an athlete’s diet. It is essential to be properly hydrated, so drink your water throughout the day! Some folks say 1/2 your body weight in ounces – shoot for at least eight glasses.

To prep for a game, start out with a hearty breakfast rich in carbohydrates to keep your energy up, move on to a balanced lunch containing protein vegi, carbohydrate combination, spread out protein consumption throughout the day, try to avoid bad fatty foods (eat the good ones like avocado), and eat your last meal two to three hours before game time to be sure you have digested it. For our recommendations for post-game recovery foods check out our guide here!

Join the conversation and leave us a comment on what food routine works for you.

(photo source: mountain-bike-world)

Happy Birthday Cindy Parlow Cone

Happy birthday to Cindy Parlow Cone, three-time NCAA Women’s Soccer Champion and founding member of the Women’s United Soccer Association, former head coach for Portland Thorns FC and in her first year as coach in her first year as head coach of the Portland Thorns, led the Thorns to the NWSL Championship. Parlow was a member of the 1996, 2000, and 2004 Olympic, and 1999 and 2003 Women’s World Cup, teams. Parlow Cone played professionally for the Atlanta Beat for three years and was the Coaching Director of 13-18 year-old girls’ programs at the Triangle United soccer league.  Cindy is a co-founder of Goals for Girls.  Birthday –May 8th.

Dynamic Stretching advice from Dr. Lindsay Di Stefano and Dragonwing

Spring sports tryouts are underway -and warming up safely is key to playing well and minimizing the risk of injury. In this blog, we asked Dr. Lindsay Di Stefano to provide readers with evidence-based, practical information to help encourage safe and healthy participation in sports for all athletes, but with a special focus for pre-adolescent and adolescent girls.

First Step to Any Activity: A Proper Warm-up

In the past, you may have witnessed this scene –fifteen girls put their bags down and jog around the soccer field together. They stop at midfield and align themselves in a circle with one teammate in the center. This “captain” leads her team through a series of static stretches by counting off 30 seconds per stretch. After the team has completed a few stretches, they walk off the field to their waiting coach and begin practice. Have you seen this scenario before?
I surely have! Here is an example of another common scenario frequently played out on youth sport fields: The team arrives, they start talking to one another, catching up on the day’s events, and may start juggling or passing to one another before the actual practice begins. Or a third scenario occurs when an athlete walks out of their front door and starts running three miles. Unfortunately, the athletes in all three scenarios are not helping themselves be as prepared as possible for any training, practice, or game. Not only are these athletes not putting their bodies in the best condition for performance, but they may also be increasing their risk of injury.
A better solution to these examples above is to gradually prepare your body for the upcoming activity. Generally, the first thing to do is to start increasing your heart rate, which will begin to “warm-up” your muscles. There are many ways to accomplish this goal. You can walk at progressively faster speeds, leading to a jog, possibly incorporate some quicker runs, or you can ride a bike with low resistance, or even play a small game that involves low to moderate effort. The goal is to just get your body moving!
After you are feeling “warm” and perhaps even sweating a little bit, you can start performing some specific exercises for various muscles. These exercises will help the muscles get used to working (producing force) while they are moving. Here is where the big difference lies between traditional “static stretching” and a “dynamic warm-up”. Once you have “warmed up” your body through gradual exercise, you do not want to stand in place and essentially cool it down. Static stretches that are held for a long period of time may also interfere with your muscles’ ability to work effectively. Research has shown that a dynamic warm up helps to more effectively prepare the body for athletic participation.

Instead of performing static stretches, try some of these dynamic movements. Similar to the warm up activity, you should gradually progress the speed and intensity used for these exercises. The goal is that you are ready to jump into full-speed activity when you are finished with these exercises.

Walking knee to chest
Walking knee to opposite shoulder
Walking quad stretch
Walking hamstring stretch- one foot in front, sit back onto back leg and lean forward towards front foot, front knee straight and back knee bent, toes down to the ground
Walking calf stretch- same as the walking hamstring stretch expect pull toes/foot upward
Walking lunge/hip flexor stretch- walk out into a lunge, keep body upright,
Side to side lunge/groin stretch
Walking cross over/piriformis stretch
Walking lunge with rotation
Heel walks/Toe walks
Butt kicks
Hamstring kicks
Skipping
Carioca
Lateral shuffles

So next time you see athletes start performing “static” stretches before any physical activity, suggest to them that they should try out some new moves that might help prevent injury and may improve their performance!

Black History Month: Celebrating Serena Williams!

Sharing stories about women athletes matters. Equally important, hearing stories of amazing women athletes matters. One of my favorite legends is Serena Williams. To celebrate Black History Month, the artist Simone Grace is creating a coloring book with portraits of 28 amazing black women and one of the world’s greatest athletes, Serena Williams is featured.  Simone is my friend and classmate -and when I asked her if we could share this page with our community of athletic girls and their parents, she generously and ecstatically agreed. You can get a free printable coloring page here!

Check out all the illustrations of visionary black women who are luminaries in politics, arts, activism, business and sports. Coloring is a fun, empowering and relaxing activity for all the strong girls and women in your life and makes a great gift! You learn more about Simone Grace and how to get the entire printable coloring book at the GoFundMe page here.

xoxo
MaryAnne
Founder of Dragonwing girlgear

mosaic

 

Soccer Star, Laura is ‘Feeling Confident’

With the NCAA D1 Women’s Soccer College Cup being held this weekend, it is only appropriate that I highlight a local middle school soccer player and her review on the new Racerback Cami.

Ambassador, Laura from North Carolina says,

“I love the new Racerback cami- from the comfortable built in bra to the easy-to-move-in material! The fitted, but not too tight cami, allows me to move swiftly and easily. The material is smooth and flexible and lets me run and workout without having to tug at my cami or feel uncomfortable. I love how the racerback is closely fit to my body but is in no way too tight. In addition to the comfort, the cami makes me feel confident and look confident. When I am doing ab workouts, for example, the material does not stick to me like other shirts or camis do, it allows me to work-out without having to stop and fix my top. Because of the fitted material, when I am running I don’t feel like my shirt is so uncomfortably loose.”

Thanks Laura, I am so glad you are enjoying your Racerback cami! Check out the Kickstarter and get your Racerback cami today and join Dragonwing Girlgear in their mission to grow confident, strong girls.

Also, tune in to watch the Women’s College Cup this weekend and support our college women and local Tar Heels! They play West Virginia tonight, Friday December 2nd, at 5 and Finals will be held Sunday, December 4th.

 

Giving Tuesday: Dragonwing Girlgear Style

Dragonwing Girlgear is dedicated to giving back and supporting others who want to do the same. Goals for Girls is an organization that connects girls from all over the world together to empower one another through service and soccer. In hopes of helping to further their mission of girls helping girls, Dragonwing Girlgear is donating one bra to Goals for Girls for every bra purchased today. You have the chance to instill confidence in not only your daughter, but another young girl somewhere in the world. Join us and Goals for Girls in our Giving Tuesday efforts to provide gifts that keep on giving: a top-of-the-line sports bra and the gift of empowerment.

Dragonwing Girlsgear encourages living ‘open source’

https://medium.com/@isabisa/how-living-open-source-makes-you-more-human-e4b71d59b525#.7i23ady4c

Dragonwing Girlsgear is helping girls everyday with a struggle very prevalent in today’s society. With the rise of technology and social media, people are expected to present themselves in an ‘idealized’ manner, posting only ‘flattering pictures’ and positive posts. This causes unnecessary comparison, that with kids and teen girls can lead to many problems, such as body image issues and lack of self-esteem. Our goal at Dragonwing Girlsgear is to provide girls with the confidence they need to realize their actual potential.

The author of this article above, Alissa Ryan Herr, Founder and CEO of Unity Digital Agency and mom, agrees with our mission. She lays out the foundation, to reach self-actualization using the coined software term ‘open source.’ Through, sharing, teamwork, accepting failures, being objective and loving one another, Herr said, “We can build a community of other humans who love us and want to help us succeed.”

That is what Dragonwing Girlsgear wants for you, together we can support and love each other, as we strive for our wildest dreams and become the best versions of ourselves.

Check out the article for more details!