You remember the feeling, don't you? Playing a sport you couldn't really play in PE, trying out for the school musical or the cheerleading squad, or even just having to give a speech in class. The sweaty palms, the nervous feeling in the pit of your stomach, the feeling that all eyes were on you and critiquing everything you said and did.
Losing Her Voice
Girls are self-conscious. In our seminars with parents, we talk often about how girls lose their voice around middle school. Dove claims that 6 out of 10 girls stop doing what they love because of the way they look. As a counselor who has worked with girls of all ages for more than 20 years, I would say it's also because of who they are—or, more importantly, who they believe themselves to be.
Research suggests that when something goes wrong in a boy's world, he blames someone else. (Moms, unfortunately, that's most often you.) But when something goes wrong in a girl's world, who does she blame? You guessed it, because you did too (and maybe you still do). She blames herself.
It doesn't take long for things to start going wrong in her world. And, typically by the early teen or even the preteen years, she is firmly entrenched in self-consciousness. Girls tell me that they think about themselves and what others are thinking about them continually. This preoccupation causes them to shrink back. One girl told me it was like she "faded" around the sixth grade. They stop raising their hands in class. They don't want to try new things. They go along with the crowd, liking what their friends like and dressing the way their friends dress. It's often hard to make new friends or even invite the friends they already have over. They lose their voice.1