Competence and Adequacy
SNL character Stuart Smally said it best: “I'm good enough, I'm smart enough and — gosh darn it — people
Everyone cannot do everything well. But, everyone does some things well. As your daughter makes her way through middle school and high school, it will be crucial for you to remind her of that constantly. Let's say she's not the top student in history. She struggles with the memorization of dates and events. A girl who does well in other subjects may begin to doubt herself as a whole. “If I stink at history, I must be a lousy student” is a frequent reaction. Teachers and parents who notice this might want to help her see that no one (or almost no one) excels in everything. In addition, parents may want to ask her what hinders her in that class, and how she can apply victories in other subjects to this more problematic course.
Competence issues can stretch out past school work as well. From sports (where body changes can change how a girl performs in a sport she has long loved) to social situations, your daughter may question herself regularly. Parents who can help a girl share this dialogue with you or even a sibling rather than internalizing it will find they are able to keep their daughter feeling good about her abilities, even if she stumbles from time to time. This is not easy: most girls do not want to admit they question their own competence. If she can realize that everyone, every age does, that can help.
It is common for girls to slip in areas in the middle school years. Watch closely for cracks and address them as they come up, but always do so compassionately.
So what if your daughter dreams of winning
Parents don't always see their own child clearly. You may see her dancing as world class simply because your love and pride fogs the real picture. But as she passes from the time in her life when she needs to sort out the difference between hobbies and serious pursuits, it's more loving to let her know she needs to face up to her abilities (or lack thereof) and adjust her life accordingly. That doesn't mean she has to quit dancing if she has two left feet. There are dance programs and schools for girls who simply love to dance. Parents who help a girl see that are helping them find a way to do what they love and not feel like a failure. That's a lesson that crosses over to all parts of life.
Don't let your own childhood dreams cloud your vision of what your daughter should be. Just because you yearned (and failed) at being a star ice skater doesn't mean you get another chance with her. Let her live her own dreams.