Rewriting What It Means to Play “Like a Girl”
Help boost girls’ confidence by turning an insult into an empowering mantra.
Being told you throw or run “like a girl” is often viewed as an insult — it can imply a subpar physical performance as well as a lack of grit and determination. It’s an insult that can damage a girl’s confidence when it comes to sports and competition. In fact, research from Always shows more than half of girls lose confidence when they go through puberty. Eighty percent of girls feel they don’t belong in sports, and 64% give it up before they reach the end of puberty.
We think it’s time to rewrite what it means to play “like a girl” — and you can help by building the confidence of the young women in your life, whether she’s your daughter, your niece, your sister or a mentee. Here’s what playing “like a girl” should really mean.
It Means Trying New Things
In psychology, a willingness to try new activities is called a growth mindset. It can help a young woman’s development by teaching her that skills and abilities grow with effort. Teach the girls in your life that it’s OK to fail because it’s part of the process. With each failure she will learn what works and what doesn’t, and those lessons build confidence and help her achieve future success.
It Means Setting Goals
Helping a girl set goals boosts her development. Praise her for identifying a challenge and putting in the work to achieve it. Supporting her through her endeavors is just as important as congratulating her for the end result. Remind her that success in any walk of life requires dedication and practice — a useful lesson to learn while she’s young.
It Means Being a Team Player
Playing on a team teaches a girl the value of being part of something bigger than her own achievements. She will need to learn how to take instruction and constructive criticism, which are skills many teenagers need help with. Being part of the group can help a sensitive teen learn to accept feedback without feeling singled out.
It Means Being Patient
We live in a world where waiting for anything is a foreign concept. But by delaying or deferring gratification — missing out on movie night to prepare for a big game, for instance — girls learn that the ability to delay a small reward leads to bigger, more important ones.
It Means Fairness — and Resilience
Sports teach the importance of playing fair. No one likes a cheater, and there’s no satisfaction in winning dishonestly. Similarly, the resilience children develop from learning to lose gracefully helps them bounce back from tough times with less emotional angst. Young women can’t be shielded from disappointment; that’s not how the real world operates. Sports are a fantastic training ground for this lesson.
Since it first launched in 2014, Always #LikeAGirl has become an empowering, confidence-building movement. Learn more here.