January is a natural time for change and reflection. Our efforts will begin with our core work — centering the needs of girls and helping families learn together why centering the needs of marginalized girls benefits all of us — through three programs: our signature Raising Resilient Girls program that has been featured in Parents magazine, and two programs for 2nd and 3rd graders: Brave Goals, Balanced Friendships and Confident Selves, Connected Families.
These three programs all help girls develop emotional fluency and equip them with the tools to use their voice. And we are especially excited for our Confident Selves, Connected Families program to help families learn why conflict is an opportunity for change and to learn practical communication skills to put into practice right away with friends and family members.
We realize that framing conflict in a positive light may seem backwards; most people dread conflict! Laura Clydesdale, who participated in one of our programs with her daughter, astutely summarized the dread factor:
“Conflict management is one of those skill sets that no one likes to tackle, let alone practice, but research shows girls, in particular, treat it like the plague. In fact, many of us don’t deal with or prepare for conflict management until we are in it. At that point, we usually end up flying by the seat of our pants. We can make things worse, occasionally better, but often, we decide to avoid it altogether.”
Noting that conflict avoidance often makes problems worse, Clydesdale also shared why gender matters in conflict and why it’s crucial to work with girls on conflict resolution skills:
“What is amazing is that although girls believe they excel in verbal and written communication, and thrive on and prioritize deep friendships, they often don’t have the nuanced interpersonal communication tools to navigate those relationships successfully. Dealing with conflict with confidence can put girls in a position where they might not be “nice” or even likable for a little while. So, instead, many girls who want to avoid any semblance of conflict to maintain their “good girl” persona, end up sacrificing authenticity, critical thinking, and feeling more in control of situations.”
Practice helps people get better at everything from learning languages to playing musical instruments to developing physical skills. Communication requires practice too, and that is why our workshops are designed to support this practice in a no-stakes, fun, and playful context. Conflict shows up in so many ways but with the right communication tools, all of us can use conflict to create change in ways that will serve us, and especially our girls, through our lives.
Given that all of us, adults included, could use more tools and practice with conflict, AND come away closer to each other when we learn these skills, we wanted to share a new offering. If you would like to give the gift of voice — to a girl, parent/caregiver, or educator/program staff — we now have gift certificates that can be applied to any of our family and professional development programs! After all, what is more important to give our girls in 2022 than their own power and connection to others?