Home > Teens > Teen Social and Emotional Issues > Teen Stress > A Positive School Environment for Girls
|

A Positive School Environment for Girls

When psychologist and author Daniel Goleman discusses the sort of school culture that encourages students to develop people skills or emotional literacy, he suggests building "a place where students feel respected, cared about, and bonded to classmates and teachers." Essentially, he is describing a supportive community.

The teenage girls I speak with wholeheartedly agree. When it comes to their feelings about school, there seems to be no middle ground: Either they feel safe and cared for, or they are unhappy. Danielle, a Girls' Life reader who is a freshman, vividly describes what it feels like for girls in less than ideal school settings:

I have had to adjust to two new teachers so far this year, which I think adds to the stress. My homeroom teacher was moved across town because he was accused of sexual harassment. My German teacher retired unexpectedly, and now we have this teacher who can't speak English and no one is learning anything. Today, two students were kicked out for "being bad," and neither of those two students deserved to be moved. Our principal is recording our class now. It is rather depressing to start your school day off with total and utter chaos. So, for me, learning isn't fun anymore, which is unfortunate.

Not surprisingly, when I ask teens about the one thing they would change to make their school experiences better, girls (but not boys) want to strengthen their ties with the people they see daily and improve the social climates of their schools. For example, girls in middle school and high school say they would like

  • "Nicer friends and teachers."
  • "More empathic friends."
  • "Friendlier people."
  • "Fewer cliques."
  • "Closer relationships with faculty and staff."
  • "More caring and helpful teachers."
These findings dovetail with data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, the most comprehensive study ever conducted of American adolescents and their parents. Psychologists at the University of Minnesota found that schools with positive climates--characterized by factors such as well-managed classrooms and moderate disciplinary policies--may reduce teens' emotional distress along with their risk of substance use, deviant behavior, violence, and pregnancy.

The key factor is students' sense of attachment to their schools. Although most students in most schools reported feeling connected, a staggering one third of teens feel disenfranchised. As you wonder whether your daughter's school environment facilitates connectedness, consider the following findings:

Next: Page 2 >>

More on: Teen Stress

|

From Stressed-Out Girls: Helping Them Thrive in the Age of Pressure by Roni Cohen-Sandler, Ph.D. Copyright © 2005. Used by arrangement with Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

If you'd like to buy this book, click here.


highlights

Top 10 Sweet 16 Birthday Gifts
Your daughter's sweet 16 is a big milestone in her life. Celebrate this special occasion with one of these top gifts for girls turning 16.

Find Today's Newest & Best Children's Books!
Looking for newly released books for your child? Try our new Book Finder tool to search for new books by age, type, and theme, brought to you by Galactic Hot Dogs.

Printable Lists of the Top 100 Baby Names
Need help with baby name ideas? Use our printable list of the top 100 girl names and top 100 boy names of 2015 to help you brainstorm and narrow down your favorites.

Registered for Kindergarten — Now What?
Wondering what to do now that you've signed your child up for kindergarten? Try our award-winning Kindergarten Readiness app! This easy-to-use checklist comes with games and activities to help your child build essential skills for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Facebook icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks