A recently released report has revealed that more than half of us are concerned about our daughter’s self-esteem – which, in a world where airbrushed bikini models, Instagram influencers and cyberbullying reign supreme, is hardly a surprise.
What was surprising about Suncorp’s ‘2019 Australian Youth Confidence Report’, however, was the revelation that 46% of teen girls turn their back on sport by the time they’re 17, despite two-thirds of them acknowledging that sport can help them feel more confident.
The national survey – which interviewed over 1000 Australian parents and teens – also revealed only 55 per cent of Australian girls aged 11-17 play sport in a typical week, compared to 69 per cent of boys of the same age. Those who do play sport do so for an average of one hour and 18 minutes less than boys per week, while 15% of girls revealed they don’t like playing sport because they don’t think they’re ‘any good’.
Suncorp Team Girls Ambassador Rebecca Sparrow – teen Agony Aunt, podcast host and author of ‘Game On! A Team Girls Guide to Getting Active’ – explained why sport is so important for teens (but particularly girls) in a Facebook post earlier this year.
“It helps them focus on what their bodies can DO rather than how they look,” Rebecca writes. “Playing sport also gives our kids a bit of a mental health break from everything else that’s going on in their lives, and team sports, in particular, teach our kids valuable lessons about leadership, accepting and processing feedback, winning and losing GRACIOUSLY and turning up to training – even when you don’t feel like it!”
The report draws a direct link between being confident and achieving success in a range of life dimensions for girls of all ages. 67% of girls aged 11 to 17 acknowledged that sport can make them feel confident or ‘good about themselves’, while 9 in 10 admitted they get confidence through the support of their friends and family.
So how can we get our girls excited about sport again? Rebecca shares her top tips…
- Encourage girls to try sports their friends are playing as they will be more willing to get involved. If your daughter’s friends are playing netball or hockey or AFL, talk to your daughter about joining their team for a season. Or, start playing a new sport with a friend.
- Become a fan. Get your daughter excited about the sport by following the national league and experiencing the excitement of a live game. Introduce your daughter to a terrific role model like netball’s Gabi Simpson and Gretel Tippett, AFL’s Tayla Harris and Moana Hope or cricket’s Ellyse Perry. Start following the players on social media!
- Chill out. Many kids cringe at their parents’ sideline behaviour. Keep the focus on fun rather than form and leave the feedback to the coaches. The goal is for kids to have fun and be active.
- Allow them to try different sports. Some kids take a while to find the sport which ignites them. Trying a few different sports is a great way to find the right fit.
- Talk it through. If your daughter suddenly wants to quit her team sport, listen to her reasons and explore whether joining a less competitive team would be of interest.