Adolescent Girls Report Dance Has Positive Influence

By Gina Cairney on January 25, 2013 

Parents looking for worthwhile activities for their children may want to consider dance classes, especially for daughters who don’t seem interested in sports that come off as “too physical,” or may be experiencing low self-esteem or lack confidence.

Researchers found that dance intervention had a positive influence on self-rated health for adolescent girls in Sweden, which lasted up to a year after the program ended.

Some 140 girls, ages 13 to 18 years, participated in the study, published in JAMA Pediatrics. The girls selected for the study had visited the school nurse with complaints often associated with stress or low self-esteem, symptoms not serious enough to warrant a mental health referral. About half of the girls were randomly assigned to the intervention group, where they were given dance classes twice a week for 8 months. Each class lasted 75 minutes with an emphasis on the joy of movement, rather than performance, the study says, with various themes like African dance and jazz.

By the end of the program, 48 girls remained and were surveyed on their experience, with 43 of the girls rating it as a positive experience, three girls rating it neutral, and only one girl who found it to be a negative experience.

Adolescence is the time of life where everything seems awkward, and all that can go wrong, seems to go wrong. This and other stressors have an effect on how young people perceive themselves, and according to Statistics Sweden, girls are three times more likely than boysto rate themselves to have poor health.

This study’s suggestion to use dance as a preventative health measure is also supported by another study which looked at the prevalence of dance participation in the United States, and its contribution to total moderate-to-vigorous physical exercise in adolescents.

The Swedish study does acknowledge some limitations to its research however, noting that evaluating self-rated health is very subjective and the participants may have reported higher values to please their instructors.

Regardless, the potential influence dance has on young girls who are experiencing emotional problems appears to be significant. It’s also important to consider the factors that make dance an appealing physical activity to girls.

Based on survey responses, the study found three possible key factors explaining why the girls reported feeling better:

• The dance intervention was enjoyable and undemanding,
• There were opportunities for girls to offer input in music selection and dance choreography, and
• The opportunity allowed them to make new friends who had similar interests, which may be the most critical factor in maintaining interest in the program or activity.

While all physical activity of some kind is important for the overall well-being of a child, dance programs may be the ideal ticket for some parents who have children—daughters and sons—who want to participate in a social activity without the overbearing competitive nature of sports like soccer and basketball.

The Key to Raising Confident Kids? Stop Complimenting Them!

by Peggy Drexler, Ph.D.

The Key to Raising Confident Kids? Stop Complimenting Them!

Self-esteem comes as the result of achievement
Published on August 17, 2012 by Peggy Drexler, Ph.D. in Our Gender, Ourselves

In Maria Semple’s hilarious new novel, Where’d You Go, Bernadette, the title character’s daughter, Bee, attends an elite, and progressive, private school. Here, grades are doled out in three tiers: S for “Surpasses Excellence,” A for “Achieves Excellence,” and W for “Working Towards Excellence.” That is, there is no child who is not excellent in some way. It’s a parody that is, unfortunately, not far from reality.

As parents, we believe we’re meant to instill confidence in our children. That building self-esteem is the number one priority of raising, and educating, children, and that regular praising will encourage them to believe in themselves. And if kids believe in themselves, the thinking goes, they will take risks, meet goals, and generally achieve great things. Except it turns out that confidence doesn’t necessarily lead to better performance. In fact, praise might actually undermine kids’ success.

First thing’s first: I’m not saying that we shouldn’t be supportive or encouraging, or help kids feel loved. But how often do we find ourselves saying “great job!” to the 4-year-old who cleans up her crayons after a coloring session? Or to the 8-year-old who finishes his broccoli? By dishing out praise to a child for doing things she should be doing anyway, we teach her that she gets rewarded just for being. Later, we tell them they’re smart and beautiful and awesome baseball players before they’ve had a chance to earn it—or know what those words really mean. They grow up placing their self-worth in that praise: If I’m not told I’m beautiful, she’ll start to think, then I must not be.

Research with children and families has indeed told us that praise has the opposite intended effect. It does not make children work harder, or do better. In fact, kids who are told they’re bright and talented are easily discouraged when something is “too difficult;” those who are not praised in such a manner are more motivated to work harder and take on greater challenges. The unpraised, in turn, show higher levels of confidence, while overpraised are more likely to lie to make their performances sound better. Praise becomes like a drug: once they get it, they need it, want it, are unable to function without it.

Let’s look at 6-year-old Matthew. A natural athlete, Matthew was widely praised at an early age for his throwing and catching abilities. Once he became old enough to play with other children, he realized, for the first time, that he was good—but perhaps not the best. What happened then? In Little League games, he’d choke up, constantly looking back to his parents for encouragement and forgetting to keep his eye on the ball. He’d get upset if his every effort wasn’t met with accolades from his coach—but such accolades wouldn’t help him perform any better. Safe in the envelope of constant praise that happened in his backyard with his dad, Matthew was a bundle of nerves out in the real world.

Here’s where we also see how praising kids sets them up for a world that’s almost never as generous. For kids who’ve spent their lives being celebrated for, say, tying their own shoes, failure can be devastating. In a recent New York magazine article, 27-year-old Lael Goodman said, “The worst thing is that I’ve always gotten self-worth from performance, especially good grades. But now that I can’t get a job, I feel worthless.” And this guy’s an adult; it’s even worse for an actual child. What’s more, by focusing too much on how we can build our kids’ self-esteem and confidence, we’re overlooking teaching them what real achievement means—and depriving them of knowing what it’s like to feel the satisfaction of setting a high goal, working hard, and achieving it. When we place more emphasis on the reward than the process of learning or doing—whether it’s an algebra problem or hitting a fly ball—kids inevitably focus more on the reward. They stop learning how to spell because it’s a benchmark for learning (and necessary); they learn it for the trophy and ice cream party that follows.

The point isn’t to criticize children. But it’s to recognize that self-esteem really, truly comes as the result of achievement—in the classroom, on the field, at home—rather than false accomplishments. Instead of praising your child with “you’re so smart!” be specific. Tell him, “You did a great job on your spelling quiz,” or simply, “You tied your own shoes!” Instead of telling him he’s he best on the team when you really don’t mean it, tell him you could tell he tried hard. Next time, he’ll try even harder—guaranteed.

Dr. Peggy Drexler is a research psychologist, an assistant professor of psychology in psychiatry at Weill Medical College, Cornell University, and author of Our Fathers, Ourselves: Daughters, Fathers, and the Changing American Family (Rodale, May 2011).

 

Original article

Survey Results: 1 out of 10 Women Feel Attactive

Troubling results from a recent study regarding the self-esteem of women in the United Kingdom.

Are You Attractive? 9 out of 10 Women Say NO

A UK survey explores the rules of attraction

 
A thousand women were recently surveyed on the topics of beauty and confidence. The Dove Body Confidence Census 2012, conducted in the UK among women aged 18 to 64, suggests that low self-esteem apparently runs quite high.

“If you ask a normal woman on the street how she describes herself — her looks, her body — the biggest response that comes back is that she feels average,” said a spokesperson for Dove in an interview with Female First. “Only 2 percent of women are saying, ‘I’m beautiful’ and only 1 in 10 are saying, ‘I feel attractive.’ That’s just not where we want to be.”

The survey contains telling insights, though you can’t quite call it a serious scientific study. It’s no mistake that the survey was conducted by Dove, the body-products company whose self-esteem campaign has been noted for challenging modern body-image norms — or at least the norms in advertising and the media. The models in Dove print and television ads would be dubbed “plus-sized” by the fashion industry, while the rest of us would call them “people-sized.” Much to their credit, Dove also has a social mission to inspire good role modeling for young people, and is partnered with kid-influencing organizations like the Girl Scouts and the Boys & Girls Clubs Of America. We won’t hold against Dove that it’s made by the same global corporation that produces Axe, whose commercials for male grooming products perpetuate the exact stereotypes Dove is trying to wash away. Unilever also makes Popsicles and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. But we digress.

Why the apparent lack of confidence among women? And are the results reliable, or might someone who’s genuinely beautiful inside and out have the grace not to say so? It seems like a no-brainer to blame low self image on media outlets at large, given all the bony butts on display in commercials, movies, and magazine covers. Yet the highest percentage of survey subjects — one in four — said the biggest pressure to be beautiful comes from within. “Society” was the second culprit. Only one in ten women blamed the media. A mere five percent felt pressure from friends, family, and partners.

“Being loved” was the greatest confidence booster of all, and half of all women said they feel more confident when they are complimented. Curiously, the number of compliments women delve out drops as women get older. Does that indicate that beauty gets deprioritized with maturity, or just that older women become less generous? The survey doesn’t say. But what does seem clear is that no matter how likely a woman may be to appreciate what she sees in the mirror, she just won’t believe her eyes till someone else tells her to.

Tell us on Facebook: Do you think you’re attractive?

“In schools, self-esteem boosting is losing favor to rigor, finer-tuned praise”

 

By , Published: January 15

The Washington Post

For decades, the prevailing wisdom in education was that high self-esteemwould lead to high achievement. The theory led to an avalanche of daily affirmations, awards ceremonies and attendance certificates — but few, if any, academic gains.Now, an increasing number of teachers are weaning themselves from what some call empty praise. Drawing on psychology and brain research, these educators aim to articulate a more precise, and scientific, vocabulary for praise that will push children to work through mistakes and take on more challenging assignments. Consider teacher Shar Hellie’s new approach in Montgomery County.

To get students through the shaky first steps of Spanish grammar, Hellie spent many years trying to boost their confidence. If someone couldn’t answer a question easily, she would coach him, whisper the first few words, then follow up with a booming “¡Muy bien!”

But on a January morning at Rocky Hill Middle School in Clarksburg, the smiling grandmother gave nothing away. One seventh-grade boy returned to the overhead projector three times to rewrite a sentence, hesitating each time, while his classmates squirmed in silence.

“You like that?” Hellie asked when he settled on an answer. He nodded. Finally, she beamed and praised the progress he was making — in his cerebral cortex.

“You have a whole different set of neurons popping up there!” she told him.

A growing body of research over three decades shows that easy, unearned praise does not help students but instead interferes with significant learning opportunities. As schools ratchet up academic standards for all students, new buzzwords are “persistence,” “risk-taking” and “resilience” — each implying more sweat and strain than fuzzy, warm feelings.

Read more: http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/in-schools-self-esteem-boosting-is-losing-favor-to-rigor-finer-tuned-praise/2012/01/11/gIQAXFnF1P_story.html