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Monday 10 December 2012

How do we teach young women positive self-esteem?

My daughter's school had a Saleema Moon presentation for parents [and then for the kids.] My husband and I disagreed on what was appropriate for a 9 year old in relation to sexual education, but agreed that the presentation would be a positive educational experience for our daughter.

I have been pretty open and matter-of-fact with my daughter about puberty and how babies grow etc. We have a very open relationship, where (at least for now) she seems to talk to me about everything. After the presentation she admited she learned some things, didn't understand some things but overall was glad she went. The presenter, Dr. Brandy Wiebe, had told us at the parents session that if a child was not ready to learn something, it would just go in one ear and out the other, so I let my daughter know that if there were things she didn't understand she could always come to me to ask questions now or later. I hope that openess continues as she gets older. I think every child needs a trusted adult to talk to about "life" but am not so niave to believe it can always be the parent.

I found the Saleema Moon talk to be very informative and presented in a way that was very appropriate for the age group(s). I think young girls and boys should understand these things before they experience them so they aren't scared, or surprised. As Dr. Brandy Wiebe said to our children, "How many of you are grossed out ? That's ok, this is an adult activity so luckily you don't have to worry about it for a long time, phew!"

As a parent, I am glad my daughter is getting this information early on so she has it "in her back pocket" for if and when she needs it in the future.

As an educator, I was interested in what topics were covered from each age group (which was provided in a hand out) and how they address more complex and mature topics with older students, in particular, decision-making as a pre-teen and teenager.

Dr. Brandy Wiebe spoke with me one-on-one and said that often the decisions young people make with regards to sex are because of others, not themselves. She said, if students can learn to value themselves and make decisions FOR themselves, that is a good start. This resonated with me...

I am very interested in how to help young girls in particular, develop self-esteem and how to promote positivity for young women who too often make decisions based on other's opinions, wants, needs and not their own,. How do we teach young women to value themselves?

Here is a story I heard:

A well-known speaker started off his seminar holding up a $20.00 bill. In the room of 200, he asked, “Who would like this $20 bill?” Hands started going up. He said, “I am going to give this $20 to one of you but first, let me do this.”
He proceeded to crumple up …the $20 dollar bill. He then asked, “Who still wants it…?” Still the hands …..were up in the air. “Well,” he replied, “What if I do this?” And he dropped it on the ground and started to grind it into the floor with his shoe.
He picked it up, now crumpled and dirty. “Now, who still wants it?” Still the hands went into the air. “My friends, we have all learned a very valuable lesson. No matter what I did to the money, you still wanted it because it did not decrease in value. It was still worth $20. Many times in our lives, we are dropped, crumpled, and ground into the dirt by the decisions we make and the circumstances that come our way.
We may feel as though we are worthless. But no matter what has happened or what will happen, you will never lose your value. Dirty or clean, crumpled or finely creased, you are still priceless to those who DO LOVE you.
The worth of our lives comes not in what we do, who we know or a price tag but by WHO WE ARE. You are special-Don’t EVER forget it!!
I wonder if this example would work with my own students? At what age can they make that connection? I wonder...

Now, my focus on young women's need for strong self-esteem does not mean that young boys are any less important in this equation, however, having been a young women that was bullied and often struggled with low self-esteem, I have a real desire to help young girls become strong women! I had positive teachers in my life and hope to be that for even one of my students!

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