The self consciousness that arrives during puberty for almost every girl isn’t just related to her changing body. Her changing brain heightens her awareness of how others perceive her. Are they judging her? Most likely, she thinks they are, even when they’re not.
A friend recently shared with me that her daughter was struggling with a school assignment, and when mom suggested she ask a classmate or talk with her teacher, she had a list of excuses —
- She didn’t want to bother anyone.
- She didn’t want to look stupid
- She didn’t want them to think she wasn’t paying attention when the assignment was discussed.
- She was worried she would feel judged and ultimately embarrassed.
Why is asking for help so hard?
We’ve had to address this same struggle in our own home, and one thing I shared with my daughter that seemed to resonate was this:
It’s important to remember that asking someone else to help you, doesn’t make them judge you; it makes them care more about you. When they have personally invested their energy into helping you, they want to see you succeed and they are more likely to support you.
This is similar to something the business world calls the IKEA effect. Basically, people place a higher value on things they personally help create. It’s also likely they care more about people they personally help. Maybe this resonated for her because she and I recently assembled a pain-in-the-arse dresser from IKEA that we both excessively adore now.
If your daughter doesn’t fall for the business psychology explanation – maybe she’ll listen to the GOAT* – Simone Biles, *Greatest Of All Times gymnast who spoke to the national meeting of the American Academy of Pediatrics after withdrawing from the Olympic finals a couple years ago.
If anyone can relate to being fearful of judgment and humiliation, it’s Simone. But she has bravely asked for help on more than one occasion and learned to express her needs honestly.
She asked pediatricians to share this message with their patients:
“It's scary speaking up at a younger age, but if you start telling your parent or peers what you are going through, they can understand and can get you help quicker so you won’t have to struggle alone… As humans , we don’t want to be a burden and want to figure it out on our own, but at the end of the day, sometimes it’s not possible and we have to ask for help, and that’s OK.”
How did it go when the GOAT asked for help?
“…For my decision in Tokyo, I expected more backlash, but what I got was an overwhelming outpouring of support and love and understanding…”
And just look at where she is now. She got the help she needed, and has made an incredible comeback (if you haven’t seen – she’s crushing it in competition again)!
So, if your child is resistant to speaking up or asking for help, it may be a temporary hiccup that resolves with a little pep talk and support. A bit of self-consciousness is a normal part of adolescent development that waxes and wanes in different situations.
However, if your child is not able to participate in her usual activities because of an outright fear of being judged or humiliated — she may have full blown social anxiety which definitely should activate a call to your pediatrician or a child & adolescent psychologist.
We have a lot more content on anxiety including a deeper discussion HERE that offers parenting tips to help her overcome social discomfort, and a tool HERE to help determine whether she has normal anxieties or may have an anxiety disorder.
Did you know Girlology has grade-by-grade playlists listing on-demand video and downloadable content to support her and you through the entire journey? Learn More