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How to raise resilient daughters

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Well-known journalist and Catholic mother Madonna King  knows all too well about “expectation inflation” being placed on young women and has written a book to help parents.

Fourteen is the most difficult year in a young lady’s life according to journalist Madonna King. Social media, expectations by parents, peer pressure from friends, even a lack of sleep all contribute to it being such a rough year.

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As a mother of two teenage girls, Ms King has written a book looking at the social, physical and psychological challenges faced by every 14-year-old girl today – and more importantly how to address them.

Based on about 200 interviews with principals, teachers, police, counsellors, social researchers, parents and 14-year-old girls themselves, the book helps you understand how she’s feeling, what she’s thinking and what you need to do to help her navigate her tricky teens to become a fabulous woman.

Ms King, a former Deputy Editor of The Daily Telegraph and the mother of two teenage Catholic School girls, said resilience is central to developing young women who could cope with a changing world.

“I went to a conference in New York for girls’ schools and, across five days, they didn’t mention homework, bullying or academic excellence once – it was all about resilience and leadership,” she said.

“They were focused on teaching girls to grow up in a global village.

To win one of 5 copies of her book Being 14 click here [email protected] and supply your name, mobile phone number and email address. Entries close on Friday, April 20.

Journalist and mother Madonna King.

10 Tips for parents of 14-year-old girls:

1. Seven in every ten 14-year-old girls get insufficient sleep. Often this is because of the number of extra-curricular activities, not just social media. They need nine hours minimum each night, and 30 minutes of missed sleep records a measurable IQ difference of up to 10 points.

2. Setting up false social media accounts, purporting to be another person, is now a common act of revenge when friends fall out. You’ll read how this is having dreadful consequences, as the victim logs on to find she has allegedly spent spiteful and abusive messages to her friends.

3. About one-third of teen girls – according to educators and police – will send a half-naked photograph of themselves to someone else. Being 14 explores the motivation behind girls doing this, but also explains why it is often the “good’’ student who falls foul of social media.

4. Frenetic home lives add to the obsession with social media. A girl, who has a disagreement with her friends, now comes home, into her room, where that argument will grow and continue into the night. More connected than ever, our teen girls can feel utterly alone. Some are sending more than 100 texts each night.

5. The ages of 12-25 are crucial in the brain’s development, with the part that provides teens with reasoning skills still developing over this period. In Being 14, sciencists explain this is why your 14-year-old might appear disorganised.

6. An anxiety epidemic exists, with school refusal and self-harm, on the rise. In some cases, girls are seeking counselling because they failed to achieve A-grade marks or get into an extension class. Is this what we want from our daughters? And why have 14-year-olds made contact with Kids Helpline 22,000 times in the past four years?

7. We all worry about our teens having too many friends on social media, so think about this: a 14-year-old with 650 friends on one social media app could conceivably have 325,000 people able to contact her because of the number of followers each of her friends boasts. Jon Rouse who heads Taskforce Argos – the undercover police unit that tracks online sex offenders – points the finger squarely at parents.

8. Online porn is becoming a dominant “sex educator’’ for boys, and police and educators say this is impacting on how girls are treated, and how they see themselves. Being 14 talks to police about how they are handling this challenging new environment, and educators explain what our teen girls need to know.

9. Peers can be friends and tormentors in the same 24-hour cycle. Our girls fear in speaking out or being different because of the power of those friendship groups.

10. While so many of us as parents are looking for an A in English or Maths, we are yet to value (teach and test for) those characteristics we keep telling our children are so important – leadership, emotional intelligence, team work and critical thinking skills.

Madonna King is the author of Being 14, available now, and her new book Father & Daughters will be published in September 2018 by Hachette Australia


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