The gender gap in coping with stress

The gender gap in coping with stress

Being a high school teenager can lead to stress and anxiety, especially among girls. 

The most important message that we can convey is to build their self-esteem. In her book, “The Confident Child: Raising Children to Believe in Themselves” social psychologist Terri Apter explains that self-esteem has a huge impact on successful development, and that self-esteem has more impact on a child’s growth than intelligence or natural ability. When children believe they have value, as well as the skills to justify this belief, they will have greater belief in their future successes. They will work harder and longer at a task simply because they believe that they can do it, and this will ultimately ensure higher levels of performance and completion. Ms. Apter also links confidence and self-esteem to Daniel Goleman’s theory of emotional intelligence. In his book, “Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More than IQ,” Goleman explains emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence grounds children as people who can interact positively with others and continue to develop even as the playing field gets more difficult and challenging. The more we build our daughter’s base of self-esteem and self-confidence, the more successful she will be.

Are their differences between the types of stress and anxiety that teenage boys experience from the stress and anxieties that girls experience?

While there are always exceptions, teenage girls often experience significantly more stress around appearances – what they look like and how they dress. Teenage girls also deal with very different bullying that teenage boys do. Whereas male bullies will generally choose to attack a girl or boy who they do not like, female bullies will choose someone who they see as a rival. They will use tactics such as alienation, ostracism, exclusion, and spreading rumors to harass their peers. Girls will form alliances with other social groups to become more popular and have higher social status.

Girls use relationships to bully each other. This starts as early as preschool when a girl realizes the supremacy of “I won’t be your friend anymore.” Relationships are of the utmost importance to girls in elementary and high school. They are the measure girls use to evaluate their own worth. By the third grade, the esteem and friendship of peers is nearly as important to girls as that of their families and is more important than the esteem of their teachers. Whereas bullying by boys is often addressed and condemned, social bullying by girls is usually brushed off as cruel but normal social interactions.

Rifka Schonfeld is the founder and director of SOS, servicing all grade levels in secular as well as Hebrew studies. Check her out at 

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