Attitude Adjustments–Girls

Girls Attitude

Girls are different. How’s that for an understatement? But when it comes to what drives poor attitudes, the research suggests girls are driven by an entirely different set of fears and insecurities than boys.

Author and researcher Shaunti Feldhahn suggests the solution with girls lies in addressing the problem at its root. Feldhahn writes, “One of the biggest surprises in all our research was that some of the behaviors parents find most maddening—lippiness, sarcasm, or antagonistic comments—are signals that a girl’s deepest insecurities have been triggered.” In her book, For Parents Only: Getting Inside the Head of Your Kid, Feldhahn surveyed hundreds of girls, the results of which yielded some interesting information that can help in dealing with girls’ attitudes:

  • 84% of girls surveyed said that in conflict with their parents they felt misunderstood.
  • Over half said when they were in conflict with their parents, that it was primarily about what is going on in their (the girl’s) life right now and admitted feeling fearful, anxious, or defensive.
  • When asked to use a word to describe what they most need to feel, answers among girls included accepted, included, known and liked for who I really am, special, unique, and lovely.

Armed with this information, child psychologist Lisa Rice suggests the following five essentials for helping girls overcome what may be rooted in insecurity:

  1. Tell her how special she is; don’t assume she knows it.
  2. When she’s hurting, reassure her—without crowding.
  3. Be aware of the manifestations of insecurity—and show you care.
  4. When she’s most unlovable, address the disrespect but stay connected.
  5. Value Dad’s unique role.

Feldhahn goes on to say, “A girl’s confidence comes from being loved and accepted because she is special on the inside. That’s why ‘being liked’ is vitally important to a girl; it assuages her secret fear that others will feel that there’s nothing worthy in her and reject her.”

The winter months, and January in particular, can be a difficult time. One British psychologist even developed a formula that identified January 24 as the most depressing day of the year (my anniversary is the 25th—whew!). My experience suggests that parents definitely see a spike in poor attitudes and apathy among their kids in January. Rather than suffer through a repeated cycle that strains relationships and raises stress in the house, perhaps it is time to take a look at the underlying issues that drive the behavior of our kids.

Until next time…


Feldhahn, Shaunti, and Lisa Rice. For Parents Only: Getting Inside the Head of Your Kid. Colorado Springs, CO: Multnomah Books, 2007.

About Jeffrey D. Potts, Ed.D.

Raised on a ranch in the Texas Hill Country, Jeff Potts, Ed.D., grew up learning the importance of hard work and family values. A graduate of Baylor University, he has master’s degrees from two universities and earned his Ed.D. in teaching and learning from a fourth institution. Potts launched his pedagogical career in the 1990s, working full-time with students and parents. READ MORE→