Tanya Meessmann: (00:00)
I’m Tanya Meessmann and you’re listening to episode four of the Raising Girl Shaped Flames podcast.
Tanya Meessmann: (00:13)
It’s my fundamental belief that every girl has a fire in her belly and confidence is the oxygen to those flames. If you’re the parent of a teenage girl who could do with a confidence injection, listen in as we deep dive into the relationship between confidence and areas of your daughter’s life it directly impacts such as happiness, resilience, communication, connection, and much more. I aim to leave you inspired by new ways to build your daughter’s self-belief and nurture her flame from a flicker into an inferno. Alright, alright. Enough of the fire puns already. Let’s strike the match.
Tanya Meessmann: (00:51)
Welcome to episode four. Today we have a chockablock episode exploring the relationship between confidence and assertiveness. Now, assertiveness is a topic that comes up a lot when I’m speaking with parents of the girls I work with. You know, they know their daughter has interests and passions, but when it comes to speaking up or sharing their opinion or pursuing something that’s important to them, something often holds the girls back. Some parents worry about maybe you’re just born with it and maybe you’re not, and then others worry about maybe their daughter’s going to be perceived as bossy or unlikable if she demonstrates what we would consider assertive behaviour. Today’s episode really fleshes out both of these concerns and in doing so we ended up covering as we always do, loads more.
We actually have two special guests today, 15 year old Katura Halleday and her mom, Kyron. Katura and I talked through how she has developed her own assertivess and how she’s able to channel it to impact hundreds of lives with her humanitarian work while juggling school at the same time, mind you, and then I brought her mom Kyron into the conversation because I wanted to better understand whether there’s some sort of parenting magic going on behind the scenes to raise such a powerful flame within Katura.
Straight after that very comprehensive chat with Katura and Kyron we have our regular nine minutes of neuroscience, but this one was one that Dr. Diane Hunter and I were particularly excited to get into because there’s a number of chemical reactions kicking off within the teen girl brain that determine whether she rides the dopamine wave or not. And Di has once again gone above and beyond preparing a short neuroscience of assertiveness handout for you to use as a quick reference when you’re talking your daughter through some of these concepts. And it just provides a bit of a reminder of the right moment that you should jump on and fan your daughter’s flame, so she has that confidence to assert herself in kind of any given situation. So grab that link in the show notes of the episode while you’re there.
Don’t forget to sign up to our mailing list. You get a reminder of new podcast episodes each week. Plus I always jam those weekly emails full of resources and information depending on which topic we’re discussing each week, that help both yourself and your daughter. Alright. I can’t wait to introduce you to Katura, she is next level amazing. So. Here we go.
INTERVIEW WITH KATURA
Katura Halleday. She is a 15 year old humanitarian and social justice advocate and she’s using her voice to highlight educational equality. She’s passionate about two things in life, art and the education of young women in developing countries. In 2018 she combined the two and started a social enterprise “Eight by Eight to Educate” donating a hundred percent of the profits to education in developing nations.
Tanya Meessmann: (03:36)
The organisation has four main income streams. Katura as a keynote speaker, she has a book that she illustrated called Rina’s story, an annual art competition and personal and company sponsorship. She is a five times international Stevie awards winner and has been a finalist across a slew of other awards including the Gold Coast Citizen of the Year in 2018, Women In Business rising star the same year and Seven news young achiever. And can I remind you, she’s 15 right? She was a guest speaker at the perm international forum for volunteers in Russia, an Australian representative for the golden rule day…. She’s a member of the student advisory board, mayor ambassador and the subject of an international award winning new short film “Katura’s story”. So Holy moly, you are a force to be reckoned with. I think I speak for everyone listening when I say, where on earth do you get the confidence and drive to have gone out and achieved all of these amazing things?
Katura Halleday: (04:35)
Well, for me it’s not really that much of a confidence thing as of a decision. Well, at least that’s how I kind of started. My journey began when I took a trip to Mozambique two years ago to film a documentary. Before then, I had never been in front of a microphone. I had never really been filmed, but after I’d met the kids and I’d made friends and I learned about how what I was going to say was going to change their lives, I kind of just went, I have to get over this fear because all of a sudden there’s something in the world that is bigger than me, that is more important than my fear of what is going to happen. And from there I just put one foot in front of the other and kept going and now I don’t even notice the microphone anymore.
Katura Halleday: (05:21)
I guess a very big part of that was having something you’re passionate about. It’s hard to get behind something and really go for it if you don’t really care for it. It’s not always easy. It can be really hard and I think also knowing deep down that you will fail every now and then helps because life isn’t a hundred percent happy moments. You’ve got to really know that things aren’t going to go to plan every now and then something is going to go horribly, horribly wrong and you’re going to have to get back up from that and that’s important to know because without that, without that thought of, okay, this went wrong last time, this could go wrong. How will I avoid that? How will I improve from that? You can’t really keep going. You can’t keep the momentum from slowing, so knowing that it’s going to go wrong eventually, but you can pick it up from there. It’s really important.
Tanya Meessmann: (06:14)
Yeah. Nice. Can you get back something you said early on there was about getting past the fear because there was something you’d found that was so important and it meant that you needed to get past the fear. Can you talk about what does that feel, feel like? What? What did you actually experience when you were feeling nervous about having to go and achieve something
Katura Halleday: (06:36)
That fear of what could happen? That fear of speaking in front of a microphone of being videoed was paralysing. I was so scared. I was shaking. I was so worried that I was going to mess up, that I was going to say something wrong, that I was going to do something that would have more harm than good. That was the thing that really held me back, but then I went, hang on a minute. Instead of looking at the how could it go wrong, let’s focus on how could it go right? How can what I’m doing impact positively, like how can it positively impact people? What effects will this have that will help rather than what will it do if, and IF is the big word, if it goes wrong, you got to think about what will happen if it goes right. Not if it goes wrong. Because if you think about it, if it’s going to go wrong, you never going to go anywhere. Because you always going to be stuck in that cycle of “Oh no, oh no. this isn’t going to work, this isn’t going to work.”
Tanya Meessmann: (07:33)
It is about having that mindset to be able to move it forward instead. So today what I wanted to speak to you about specifically is the topic of assertiveness. I look at your experience in the very short 15 years you’ve had already, but in order to achieve so many of the things that you have, you will have had to have taken upon some of your own assertiveness. And I do know you personally as well, and I know that these things have really come from you rather than having other people do them for you. So because at Girl Shaped Flames what we’re really focused on for girls is confidence development. So what I want to understand is, do you think there’s a relationship between your confidence and your assertiveness, and if so, what? What relationship do you think they have with each other?
Katura Halleday: (08:25)
Well, I think there’s definitely a connection and a relationship, but the thing that you’ve got to remember is they’re not the same thing. Being confident comes from really knowing your content. For example, particularly for kids in high school or university, you can think of it like of it like you’re sitting in an exam. For example, if you study, if you know your stuff, you will be confident that you will pass the exam. I personally have a fantastic mentor, Meg Jones, who constantly challenges what I know and my thinking and ensures that if I’m going to talk to about something, I know my topic and make sure that when I’m talking to people, my opinions aren’t just my opinions, that they’re coming from a place of fact and of knowledge rather than just: “Oh, I thought…” That’s confidence. Whereas assertiveness is really being able to back yourself as a person even if the position you’re taking isn’t particularly popular.
Katura Halleday: (09:19)
At first. For me, I remember assertiveness was really hard because I had to, the very first time I had to sit in front of my principal who was a lovely man and asked him to donate a bunch of second hand computers for Mozambique. That was really difficult because I knew there were other people that were fighting for those computers as well. But I knew why I wanted them and I did my research about how they would help, who would be looking after them and what they would do and because I was willing to stand up in front of adults and speak my mind from a place of knowledge and a place of facts, 2000 kids now have access to computers and to the internet, which is life changing. And sometimes being assertive doesn’t just impact you. Sometimes it also has impact on your peers.
Katura Halleday: (10:07)
In the grand scheme of things, they will learn who you are and what you stand for and why you believe what you believe. That will also help you naturally bring in people who have similar values, beause people who think similar often talk to each other. I’m personally lucky. I don’t need to be popular. That’s never been something that I’ve particularly liked. I don’t need to have approval of my peers, but what I do need to have is to be happy with me and what I stand for. And when you have that, it’s amazing the type of people that you can meet and you can talk to, and how you talk to the. And those are the people that you really need to stick with because those are the ones you can count on and who will always be with you and work with you because they know who you are and they know what to expect from you.
Tanya Meessmann: (10:55)
Absolutely. Do you think that you needed to be confident or to have a certain level of confidence before you could be assertive, before you could go and act assertively or were you okay with being assertive and the confidence kind of came along with the journey? The more successful the assertiveness turned out, the more confident you became.
Katura Halleday: (11:19)
Yeah. At first I wasn’t very confident. I just knew that I had to do it. It was, as I said, it was a decision. It wasn’t like:”Oh, I’m happy to do it”. It’s, “I’m going to have to do this and overcome it because the solution and the results are way more important than this little bit of fear”. So confidence. Yeah, it grows with assertiveness, but you really have to have assertiveness because unless people know who you are and what you’re going to talk about, you can’t really grow as a person.
Tanya Meessmann: (11:46)
Perfect. So you’ve given a little bit of examples already, but how does one actually be assertive? What does it entail and can you really take us from a moment when you’re figuring out that you want something, what do you actually need to do or how do you need to be, if you’re going to be assertive?
Katura Halleday: (12:10)
If you really want to be assertive, if you’ve really got to have the three C’s of communication, you need to be confident, clear and controlled. As I said, confidence can grow. You just need to have that little tiny seed of it to begin with. Some of these are soft skills and as most of the people listening would know, they’re not often taught in schools. So we need to practice them. And if you want to have a go maybe at home, a good way to do it in a safe environment is to pick something you want to do, but you’re not sure your parents would really let you do and ask them for it. For example, you could maybe call a family meeting and talk to your parents and say “Hey, mom and dad, okay, I want to go to bed at ten instead of nine”.
Katura Halleday: (12:51)
And you don’t just stop there. Don’t just say “I want to do this”, because they’re not going to agree with you, because you haven’t explained why. The next step you’ve really got to do is you’ve got to bring in some evidence. You’ve got to explain why they should let you do this. So you could say, for example, okay, it’s been scientifically proven that students need eight hours of sleep. If I go to bed at 10, I still get eight hours of sleep as I’m currently getting at nine, and that extra hour would allow me to chat to my friends, be more social, and with that extended bedtime, I’d still be able to get my homework done. And that’s your evidence. That’s really important. The next part, sorry, is being controlled in your approach, which means reading the signals and what’s going to happen before it happens.
Katura Halleday: (13:37)
You need to be able to adapt your approach quickly. Maybe the example you could use for this is if your parents are kind of giving us some resisting vibes, you could say, okay, well maybe we just try 30 minutes at first. Maybe we just start with, I will go to bed at nine 30 and if that goes well for a month, then we can go to an hour. And that’s the way you can say, okay, well I’m willing to bargain. I’m willing to adapt to this situation. And once you’ve practiced this skill and you’re getting better at being assertive, you can all of a sudden take that skill outside. You can talk to your friends, to different peer groups and maybe even beyond. And now that you’ve got that skill, all of a sudden you’re a lot more easy to talk to because people aren’t going to be confused about what you want, who you are, they know who you are and what you want. And finally, he third of the three CS of communication is being clear. You want to really make sure that you’re not coming across all murky and what you want. You want to be really sure what you want to get out of it. Some people call it an ask, it doesn’t necessarily have to be an ask. It just has to be, you have to be clear in what it is you want and what it is you’re talking about. You don’t want to be: “Ah, um, maybe….” You want to be certain.
Tanya Meessmann: (14:56)
I love it. I love those three C’s. And I think you’re absolutely right. I think emotions come into it a lot as well. And if you find yourself getting overly emotional, it’s hard to actually be seen to be being assertive. And instead you sort of end up coming across a bit hysterical.
Katura Halleday: (15:12)
And that’s the other thing about being assertive. It’s not emotional, it’s not being the loudest or the proudest or the the most aggressive person. It’s about being sure.
Tanya Meessmann: (15:22)
Yeah. God, I love that. Okay, so being a teenage girl, you’re 15, do you think that there are any barriers between teenage girls in particular and their ability to be assertive and if so, what are they?
Katura Halleday: (15:38)
Well, barriers can be perceived, but they can also be really real. And I know that in a lot of cases, particularly with teens, barriers are short lived or perceived and they change as we grow and as we learn more about the world. I do know and understand though, that we all want acceptance. The problem is we have to as:” who do we want acceptance from? I know there is still a certain amount of gender inequality in our society and by being assertive, which really just means being sure of who you are, it can affect the people and how they respond to you. As teens we should try and remember how people respond to us and how they act around us. It says a lot more about how they are and what their journey was, then it does say about us and you’ve got to remember everyone’s on a different path.
Katura Halleday: (16:26)
I remember reading a story that was sent by my principal, which was about a bully, which he was a student who was about to get expelled and when it was investigated it was just discovered that his home life was violent. And once that was addressed, his bullying issue was also changed. That’s something you’ve really got to remember, that we’re all individuals and we all have different dreams and different goals, different interests and different histories, particularly. I know my own friendship groups have changed over the years. I’ve tried new things, I’ve changed as well over the years and I’m growing with confidence and I’m learning how to respectfully put across my viewpoint and equally accept that not everyone out there is going to agree with me no matter how convincing I am. Well, no matter what I say, and I guess that’s being assertive. And it doesn’t mean that you have to be loud, or correct a hundred percent of the time. You just have to be confident and smart about how you put your viewpoint across.
Tanya Meessmann: (17:24)
So in light of that, because you sound like you’ve got it very together here, but have you actually ever had a negative experience that was a result of being assertive after you’ve gone for something that you really wanted, the way you went about getting it? Have you ever had a negative experience to do with that?
Katura Halleday: (17:43)
I think my only negative experience involving assertiveness was when I wasn’t assertive enough. Earlier this year I was actually invited to present the documentary, Katura’s Story, to the United Nations headquarters in New York.
Katura Halleday: (18:00)
Amazing opportunity. I’m 15 I never thought I would get anywhere near there ever. I was just about to address the world leaders like that. That was blowing me away. And at the same time though, it was really daunting. And because of that I doubted myself because it was scary. I thought, okay, well maybe I should look to people, look to adults in particular. And suddenly when I was there, everyone had an opinion. So I was struggling to figure out who to listen to. And that was my biggest mistake because everyone wanted to have an opinion on what I said, how I said it, who I should say it to. Everyone from the director of the film to local council, to the charity that I was working with and beyond, all wanted to influence what I said. And because there were so many people, I let them influence and I let them help me write my speech. And in the end when I spoke and when I came across, it wasn’t my best work.
Tanya Meessmann: (18:57)
Hmm Hmm. It wasn’t your words then.
Katura Halleday: (18:59)
No, it wasn’t. And I wasn’t being assertive. So when I delivered it, while it was okay, it wasn’t great and that was an amazing opportunity and I let that just slip because I wasn’t being assertive. Luckily I was actually asked to address the ambassadors of the 182 member states the next day. I only had a few hours to prepare, which was a bit scary. But this time I just got a little bit of help to get my thoughts in order and when I spoke, I spoke from my heart and about what I felt was important and about my message. And that time what I was saying was was received so much better because it was me. It wasn’t everyone else putting in a little bit. It was very connected and conjoined rather than disjointed. I was even actually invited to have a cocktail event that evening for me and I also got to meet the ambassadors for Australia and Mozambique, which was absolutely amazing. Yeah, that was great. It was,a big lesson for me. I really learned that I need to trust in what I know and what I believe and while I still need to listen to others and be open to their suggestions, I need to have enough confidence and belief in me and what I am and who I am to stand up for me and back myself. Because unless I do that, I’m just a pathway that everyone else’s words is going through. I need to be my own voice.
Tanya Meessmann: (20:32)
I love that. Now tell me, I know about this trip that you went on, but remind me, was your mum with you at the time?
Katura Halleday: (20:41)
Yes, my mum was with me. She wasn’t quite up to letting me go halfway around the world on my own yet.
Tanya Meessmann: (20:48)
So can you tell me then, what role did she play when, obviously she bore witness to you having a lot of different voices coming at you before the first time you spoke, and then she would have bore witness to you after you had spoken and how you were feeling about how that went. Because obviously it didn’t go the way that you wanted it to go. What did you find? What support was she giving you or how was she helping you through those moments as a parent?
Katura Halleday: (21:22)
Well, my mum’s really supportive and really helpful, particularly when it comes to speaking because once I’ve spoken and once we’re alone, probably when we’re driving back from an event or something, we talk about it, but she never just comes straight in and tells me what I could have improved on. She lets me think about it myself. And I remember when we finally got to that little bit, that sweet spot where it was just us and we could talk. I talked to her about it. I said that wasn’t made, that was, I was reading a script that wasn’t me and it was words from everyone else except for myself. And I think that was really important because it wasn’t just her telling me what I needed to improve on, it was me looking at how I did, comparing it to everything else that I’ve done. I’m thinking, okay, well what went wrong? How can I improve? And that that comes back to the whole pivoting issue is you need to know how to do that. Having someone else do that for you, it’s good. You need to take that information in. But you also need to learn how to do it yourself.
Tanya Meessmann: (22:21)
What an experience, my word. So coming back to this assertiveness side of things, what we often hear about out in the world when we hear assertiveness, and particularly unfortunately when it is associated with women and girls, there is the dirty B word. So have you ever come across anyone perceiving you or have you ever witnessed someone else who is using assertiveness to be considered bossy or show off in some way?
Katura Halleday: (22:49)
Being assertive is often compared to being loud and bossy, but it isn’t. You can be passively assertive and that’s the best way to do it. If you’re angrily assertive, people will call you bossy and people will call you a show off because they think that you’re trying to tell them exactly what they must do. Um, and it’s like in school for those kids out there that are roughly my age, you don’t necessarily need to stand up on stage and speak out about gender equality or the environment or against a bully. It’s important to know that you can be assertive, but you can be assertive passively. For example, you can make changes in your life about how you act, who you associate with and how you project your views in class and how you stand up for yourself. You can start small and that is perfectly fine.
Katura Halleday: (23:38)
But when you understand who you are and why it’s easier to be consistent and once you’re consistent you can kind of build your personal brand and pretty soon your peers get to know who you are and what your core beliefs are and once that’s established you can start to speak out a little bit more each time and friends wouldn’t be so shocked by what you have to say because they know that you stand up for you and they know what to expect because you’ve kind of built yourself to be that type of person. But it’s important to remember that being assertive passively isn’t being bossy. It’s just being confident in who you are as a person and what you believe and what you stand for.
Tanya Meessmann: (24:20)
Absolutely, and I think there’s a real element of control that comes into the bossy version of assertive. I think it’s different. Assertiveness isn’t necessarily that you’re trying to control a situation. Assertiveness is that you’re trying to influence an outcome. If you can influence that outcome positively for you taking the initiative to move something forward that’s being assertive. Whereas I think bossiness is really around control. If you’re trying to control the situation or control people or control an outcome, that’s when the blinders kind of come on and you’re not taking the full picture into account. You get very sort of single focused and it can come across as being bossy essentially. So I think you make an excellent point about the fact that, you know, girls don’t need to be standing on the stage with the microphone blaring out their message in order to be considered assertive, that there are just ways you can go about through your actions alone that actually do show assertiveness without being the loud one in the audience essentially. So on that note, I want to know, you have some teenage girls listening to this right now, and their parents: what advice would you give other teenage girls who are similar to you in that they might just have something they really want to achieve? Well, they have a goal or a dream, but they’re worried that they’re going to get judgment from their peers if they start getting out there and being assertive and going after it. What advice would you give to those girls?
Katura Halleday: (25:57)
Just give it a go. Seriously. Like what have you got to lose? I’ve never heard of a story of someone sitting on their death bed saying “I’m so glad I didn’t go after my dreams”. And for me, you can take me as an example. Like two years ago, I never would have imagined I’d be here on this podcast or I would’ve gone to Africa. That I would have done anything that I have done, but it’s because I went, you know what? Let’s just try, what’s the worst that can happen? Put one foot forward and just keep going. If I hadn’t have done that, nothing would have come from it. So that’s really important. You just have to go for it. And if you’ve got a dream, the first step towards getting it is defining it. You need to write it down.
Katura Halleday: (26:40)
It’s the first step. Make sure it’s flexible though. You don’t want to super duper strict, because life changes. You need to be able to pivot your ideas. For me, one of the biggest things, which was probably the second step that I did, was surround yourself with people you admire. For me, that was successful women, who shared similar values to me, and through listening to them and learning from their mistakes and accepting their views on things both good and bad I was willing to take that feedback and turn it into a journey and become a person that people can look to for opinions as well. One thing that I learned really early was from Brené Brown in a podcast where she actually spoke about a famous speech which was given by Theodore Roosevelt in 1910, which was called “Man in the arena”. There was a line in that speech “the credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood”. This is a rule that Brené applies to the views of others and how others views of her have come and affected her. And the next part is if you are not in the arena getting your butt kicked, I’m not interested in your feedback.
Katura Halleday: (27:59)
Listening to people’s opinions is really important. You need to always be able to take in other people’s opinions and be able to accept them with a nice, happy smile, but you’ve got to be careful about what you take to heart. You only take the opinions that really matter from people that really know. There’s never been a generation, in all honesty, with as much opportunity as we have and it’s our responsibility to not waste it, but it’s also our job to make the most of it
Tanya Meessmann: (28:31)
Wise words. Well said. Thank you so much. Before I wrap up with you, I’m going to have a very quick word with your mum, Kyron.
INTERVIEW WITH KYRON HALLEDAY
Hi Kyron. Thank you so much for taking a second to dive in on the end of Katura’s podcast with me.
Kyron Halleday: (28:45)
Well, thank you very much for having us Tanya. It’s lovely that you’ve shown an interest in the work that she’s doing.
Tanya Meessmann: (28:50)
Well, I honestly, you can’t miss her. She is an extraordinary force. As I mentioned at the beginning, the reason I wanted to speak to you is that I just want to dig in a little bit to what it’s like to be the parent of a girl who has managed to harness her own personal level of confidence and assertiveness and utilise that to go on and pursue so many of her dreams and goals. So I’m sure there’s a lot of parents listening at the moment going, please, they’ve got their notepads going. Tell me what’s the secret sauce? What am I supposed to do? How do I get my daughter to be confident in herself and go out there and pursue the things that I know are going to make her happy? So by all means, share the secret with us.
Kyron Halleday: (29:32)
I don’t think there’s a secret to raising a confident child, but I do think that there is one critical ingredient that needs to be in the mix and has been present. I don’t think that any 15 year old girl, whether it be Katura or anyone just has confidence. It comes from parental support. So I think it’s important to listen to your kids, to listen to the little stories so that when they’ve got a big story, you’re the first person that they go to. You need to be available to them even when it’s not really suitable to you, which can be sometimes. And what is it like to a parent Katura? Well, Katura is an incredibly organised little bunny, and she suddenly turned me into her secretary, I think. I often get a post-it note on my computer of the things I must achieve with my day.
Kyron Halleday: (30:31)
And being willing to let her take the reins a little, being okay with watching her fail is probably one of the hard things to do. As she spoke to you about the UN, listening to that speech nearly brought me to tears. If you watch my recording of it, I’m shaking so much because I could just see that she wasn’t feeling it. So watching her succeed the next day when she really spoke from her heart was not only a lesson for her, but also a lesson for me in parenting. And that is that they’re individual minds and we just need to support them and be for them as much as we can.
Tanya Meessmann: (31:12)
Yeah, absolutely. It would have been incredibly emotional to watch her on stage, but that’s why when I was speaking to her, I wanted to know what then was the role that you played when she comes off stage and you know, the instinct I’m sure as a parent is to jump in there and try to fix it and try to make her feel better and bandage it all up and so on and so forth. But really, as she said herself, the richest learning came from the fact that you didn’t do that. I’m sure you comforted her, but you, you let her take the time she needed to have the learning herself, which is a far richer outcome.
Kyron Halleday: (31:49)
Yeah. I couldn’t agree more. I think being there to support someone when they fail is very different to fixing it for them. If I fix it, it doesn’t make her better next time around. I think an analogy of being taught how to fall off a monkey bar. You know, you’ve got to let your kids play on the monkey bars and teach them how to tap and roll rather than just putting them in a nice safe environment, because the world isn’t necessarily a nice safe environment, and our job as parents, it’s not to protect them, but to get them ready to face the world. Good, bad, and indifferent.
Tanya Meessmann: (32:26)
God, I love that so much that it’s so aligned with exactly what we teach at Girl Shaped Flames.
Kyron Halleday: (32:34)
Best advice I ever got about parenting was from my best friend in Coffs Harbour who’s a mum of five children. And she just said: You’ve got to let her go, you’ve got to let her fall.
Tanya Meessmann: (32:42)
Yeah, absolutely. One other thing you and I have talked about in the past that I’d love you to share with our listeners is about Katura. She is obviously a fantastic young woman who must be at you with new ideas and groundbreaking ways that she wants to solve the world’s problems on, I imagine a breakfast daily basis. Now as a parent that can, I imagine, be simultaneously exciting and a source of pride, but probably a little bit terrifying as well because of just the onslaught of what she wants to do and achieve. How do you navigate that as a parent? What is important there in those moments when she’s coming to you with an idea, even for girls who might come to their parents with one idea a year as opposed to a thousand, what is the important way that we should be reacting to that?
Kyron Halleday: (33:40)
It’s important never to say no as a parent. And I don’t mean no when they ask for extra ice cream. I mean no to an idea if, if your child comes to you with an idea, they’ve had the time to think it through and that’s something that they’re passionate about and how can you possibly hope for them to have confidence if they don’t have passion? So if they have passion and if their passion is unrealistic, if for example, your child comes to you and says, I want to solve the COVID19 problem that’s where you can say, okay, that’s really admirable. So let’s break it down. You know, let’s look at this. Something that we can start with that’s small. Katura didn’t start raising over a hundred thousand dollars for these kids. She started with “Can I pay for one child’s education for one year? Can I raise $310?” You know, and from there it grew, that was successful. So let’s look at the next step and then let’s look at the next step. But I think it’s important that you back, your children, no matter what their idea is, it doesn’t matter if it’s unrealistic, it doesn’t matter if they fail. That’s not the point. The point is that you need to be there so that they know that whatever else happens in the world, you have their back.
Tanya Meessmann: (34:58)
That belief is incredibly powerful and it’s something that we’ve seen evidenced in children from a young age. If they are instilled with parental and/or other support network belief that they come away into their adult lives with an innate sense of self worth and self ability essentially to go forward.
So I think that element of what you’re talking about is incredibly important and for them to feel heard and understood. But what I love about your approach especially is accepting the idea and then trying to break it down into manageable pieces. Because I think where sometimes the girls struggle is they might come up with something that is intended to have an enormous impact and they set their expectations so high and the success is defined by achieving that enormous impact. And then my very good friend Ky Furneaux, who’s been a part of Girl Shaped Flames from the beginning, she always likes to talk about “you can’t scale the mountain in one leap”. You have to break it into pieces. And if you think you’re going to, then you’re already failing. So the idea that you can teach inadvertently, you’re teaching Katura that life is made up of small steps, not big giant leaps. And that means that that really prepares her with a perspective and with an expectation set that will serve her for the rest of her life as she approaches new projects and new life circumstances. I just think that’s such a fundamental.
Kyron Halleday: (36:35)
It doesn’t really matter what you look at, whether you look at a big successful business or whether you look at an individual who’s succeeded in their given field. Nobody got there overnight. They all had to start somewhere and they all had to fail along the way. You know, we constantly hear these days that failing is the new succeeding and I couldn’t agree more. You know, you’ve got to break things down into little steps, have four successes and two failures or successes and just move forward. I mean, Katura’s had lots of things that have fallen over. She ran an art lesson at the Mudgeeraba show, to which two people turned up. So we sat there for two days to teach two people how to draw something. We still made it fun. We played our music. You know, you’ve just got to work around things that go wrong and learn from them.
Tanya Meessmann: (37:23)
Yeah, absolutely. And as a parent have the strength and belief that it is the right thing to let your child feel that. Because I know even as a parent myself, the idea of my children feeling any type of hurt, or self disappointment is enough for me to want to instinctively swoop in there and make it better, and don’t let them feel that hurt. But as you said earlier, it’s about preparing them to understand that they have the capacity to deal with it when it happens and you know, they, with the right mindset, they come out of it far more prepared for the next time and the next time we talk about that a lot.
Kyron Halleday: (38:02)
I think too, you know, as my kids have grown from, you know, the younger children into teenagers, where do you want them to have this big life lesson? Do you want them to have it after they’ve left home and they’re at uni and they’ve got no one to turn to or do you want them to have it in a safety of your home and I want my kids by the time they head off to uni, which seems to be getting increasingly close, I want them to be confident and if they don’t know to seek out the right people to ask.
Tanya Meessmann: (38:31)
Kyron Halleday: (38:33)
And I think it’s important for them to see me that I think it’s important for them to see me fail and then for me to go “Right,I didn’t do that well. How can I do it better?” And who do I ask, you know, how do I choose my mentors? Who do I choose in my life to give advice?
Tanya Meessmann: (38:49)
Yep, definitely. Alright. I’m going to leave things there with you. Thank you so much. And I’m going to invite Katura back again and we might wrap things up in here about some of her fantastic projects she has on the move at the moment.
Kyron Halleday: (39:01)
Fantastic. I’ll just put her back on.
Tanya Meessmann: (39:03)
Thank you so much Katura for your time today and sharing your experiences with assertiveness. There were two things that are on your table at the moment that I’d love you to take a second just to tell our audience about. One of them is your Eight by eight art competition. Can you tell me a little bit more about that?
Katura Halleday: (39:21)
So 8×8 is my art exhibition and competition, which I will hold annually. It’s where anybody in the community, no matter their age or any factor can submit a piece of artwork that is eight inches by eight inches or 20 centimeters by 20 centimeters. All of the artwork is then showcased and can be sold for $30. The fee for children’s entries is $5, the fee for adults’ entries is $15. All of the money raised through that event then goes towards education in disadvantaged nations. That’s a quick rundown of 8×8. It will be held at the end of this year hopefully if Corona doesn’t make us go otherwise, but so far it’s going ahead.
Tanya Meessmann: (39:59)
That is amazing. What an incredible initiative that you’ve put together there. And then you have also contributed to a book as an illustrator, I believe. Can you tell us a little bit about Rina’s Story?
Katura Halleday: (40:13)
So Rina’s Story is a book which was written by Natasha Yates who is a local doctor and a personal friend of mine and my sisters’. And a few years ago she approached me and my youngest sister and asked us to illustrate this book called Rina’ Story. Rina’s Story has since been finished and published and you can purchase it if you go to the Eight by Eight website, there’s a link. It’s a book about a young girl who’s all of a sudden somewhere she doesn’t recognise, with a family she doesn’t know. And about how she figures out who she is and where she’s going and why she’s going there and why everything happened.
Tanya Meessmann: (40:47)
Oh, it sounds absolutely beautiful and spot on for everything we stand for here at Girl Shaped Flames about figuring yourself out and having the confidence to move forward.
So as Katura mentioned the information for both of those things are on her website, 8x8toeducate.com.au. I will pop the link in the show notes so you can go and check out both the art competition and that beautiful Rina’s Story. So that brings us to the end today. Thank you so much. That was an amazing chat and I just love everything you are doing. You know I’m an enormous supporter and in fact if there are other people who’ve been listening to this podcast who also want to just keep across what Katura is doing and all of her amazing initiatives that I’m sure are to come, she is becoming a bit of a LinkedIn afficionado and so she’s on LinkedIn, you can find her under Katura Halleday, I’ll also pop the link in the show notes, jump on there, connect with her, tell her you heard her on this podcast and I’m sure that somehow you might be able to get involved with something she’s doing or support in some way. And we know that what she is doing is incredibly powerful and has been a perfect utilisation of her own assertiveness. Thank you so much for your time. Thank you. Such an impressive young woman. And a fantastic dive into some true insights around what goes on inside a teenager, both emotionally and mentally when they’re pursuing things that they’re really passionate about, when they find that motivation to move forward and get past the things that they’re afraid of.
But now what I want to understand is what’s going on inside the brain and what are those factors that influence whether a teenager has assertiveness or not? Can we teach it or can they learn it? And is there any hope if you have a daughter who’s not showing much assertiveness at this point in time of her life? So to do just that and to unpack all of that amazing brainy goodness, we have our nine minutes of neuroscience with Dr Diane Harner.
NINE MINUTES OF NEUROSCIENCE
Hi Diane. How are you going?
Dr Diane Harner: (42:45)
Hey, good. Tanya. Good to be here again.
Tanya Meessmann: (42:48)
Yeah, and we’ve got a good one on our hands today. We’ve got assertiveness and I think it tickles a lot of parents bones because it’s tied up in motivation and taking initiative and going after things that we want. And it leads into other topics like standing up for ourselves, and setting boundaries and things. So what I really want to get into is: what’s going on in the brain from science perspective and psychologically with teenage girls, when they have moments of opportunity to be assertive.
Dr Diane Harner: (43:24)
Yeah. I think all parents want to see their girls strive after their dreams and chase down their goals. And being assertive is an important part of that. So what we know is when somebody is motivated towards something, it’s usually associated with an anticipation of getting a reward. Now that reward might just come from a sense of achievement or it might come from making a contribution or it might come from doing good in the world and making a difference. And what we know is that in our brain, when we anticipate a reward, we get a lovely surge of dopamine, which is that happy, lovely chemical that makes us feel great. Whenever we get a dopamine release, what it says is that a good thing is happening or is going to happen, so let’s pay attention to that. So when you see that spark in your daughter, when you see her become excited by something or really driven towards something or motivated towards something, what you’re seeing is probably a surge of dopamine.
Dr Diane Harner: (44:31)
Now the thing about dopamine is that it doesn’t hang around for a long time. So when you see that surge of dopamine and you see your daughter’s really excited and motivated towards something, we kind of go to ride that wave and you know, some girls will do that on their own and they will just move forward and chase it down and get into action. But there will be some girls who don’t ride that wave and don’t act immediately. And what they do instead is that they kind of stop. And this can be an indication that they’re kind of weighing up the risk and reward that is associated from doing whatever it is they’ve been excited about previously. So when they have that moment of kind of balancing that risk and reward, what they can do is start thinking about all of the things that could go wrong, all of the risks that are associated with doing that.
Dr Diane Harner: (45:31)
All of the ways that they may be judged as a result of doing that. And if in that moment, the motivation that they feel to go towards whatever the challenge or the goal is, doesn’t outweigh that feeling of risk, then they won’t move forward and they won’t be assertive about achieving that. What they’re starting to do is tick over and think about all of the risks that might be associated and feeling the fear that can be associated with taking a risk or making changes or doing something that they’ve never done before. So this is the moment when parents can really come and co-regulate and we’ve used that word a bit, but it’s when parents are with their daughters in that moment, validating how they feel, but then importantly, helping them regulate the emotions they’re feeling and reframe those risks and those negative thoughts that they’re having about pursuing whatever their goal is.
Dr Diane Harner: (46:36)
And we know that there’s an important neurochemical that is upregulated when we co-regulate with our kids. So, whenever we give them a cuddle, we spend time with them , we bond with them, we have an upregulation ofa neurochemical called oxytocin. So oxytocin is really important with that bonding of a parent to a child. But the wonderful thing about oxytocin is that it also calms down our stress responses. So whenever we look after our kids, whenever we’re with them and comfort them, we have those high levels of oxytocin. And what happens as a result is that that stress response quietens down and then they are more capable of reframing the situation into a more positive light.
Tanya Meessmann: (47:31)
And then hopefully taking first step assertiveness. Awesome. Awesome. We’ve spoken before about how things can be learned. So resilience for example, can be learned. Is assertiveness one of those things that the girls could actually be learning?
Dr Diane Harner: (47:45)
Yeah, it absolutely is. The teenage brain is incredibly plastic and we have to reinforce the pathways that we want to keep in our teenage brains because the ones that we don’t use will go away. So this is absolutely relevant for assertiveness. So we need to practice being assertive so we can become more assertive
Tanya Meessmann: (48:08)
Nice. So then how to parents help their daughters do that?
Dr Diane Harner: (48:13)
To be more assertive in the context of pursuing goals and chasing down their dreams, the first thing that we need to help them do is understand what they believe in, what do they stand for, and really help them to connect with their thoughts, their beliefs, and understand that they have value. So when you see that your daughter is connecting to something that she believes in, when she has a passion, that is when we need to ride that wave. But you know what? We want to make sure that she, she regulates the emotions around this as well. So we want to introduce a moment of pause to make sure that she’s not going headstrong bull out of the gate without considering the consequences, but we also want to help her reframe any of the fear that she has around that as well so she can move forward with it.
Dr Diane Harner: (49:04)
And the next thing is, is we make a plan. We prepare to be assertive. We, we understand what we need to do. We do the research, we set down some steps, we set some tasks, and then when it comes to the time that we execute what we also need to do, and this is a really critical thing, we need to make sure that our daughters are empathetic in that execution. And what I mean by that is that in order to be assertive without appearing bossy, we need to consider how what we are doing is affecting other people.
Tanya Meessmann: (49:37)
Alright, I want to finish up, we are moments away from our nine minutes of neuroscience ending, but I want to finish up on a very quick hypothetical. So let’s say I have a daughter who comes home from school one day and announces to me that she’s incredibly passionate about saving the world and in particular single use plastics and she wants to encourage her entire class into not using single use plastics for all of term three. I can see that that wave has started. I can see that she’s, you know, on it. How do I then as a parent, take her through those stages?
Dr Diane Harner: (50:14)
First of all, we encourage, we applaud, we celebrate, um, her passion and her drive. Then we introduce the moment of pause. It’s like, okay, in order to do that, what do we need to consider? You know, what are the consequences that we need to consider? How might people feel as a result of, of what you do about this. The third thing is that we make a plan. What are some ideas that she has about being able to deliver on this passion and this drive. And the fourth is that as we are executing that plan, we are continuously being empathetic and considering how each action we take might impact somebody else.
Tanya Meessmann: (50:58)
Yeah. Perfect. And how she’s going to impact the world. And I must admit, I love that prepare to be assertive. And I think as parents that is a very tangible ???? stage that you can be involved with to help your daughter. And we heard Katura speak earlier in the episode before about how that’s how she draws a lot of her confidence is that she feels prepared and she has put the effort into it to reduce the risk that is associated with her taking those steps. And as parents who I know, we often want to be really involved in our daughter’s progress, that that is a stage that you know, you can be making quite an impact with her and helping her learn how to be assertive. So that’s amazing. Thank you so much. That’s fantastic as always and I absolutely can’t wait to talk about the next nine minutes in neuroscience next week. Dr Diane Harner. Thank you very much.
Dr Diane Harner: (51:53)
See you then.
Tanya Meessmann: (51:54)
Wow, that’s it. Thanks for tuning into today’s episode. There is so much more we could dive into around assertiveness in teen girls. So if you want to chat about it further, come on over to our Girl Shaped Flames Facebook group and join our rather fast growing community of other parents discussing how to raise confident, self assured girls. Next week we are joined by a woman who I consider a personal role model of mine, Erica Berchtold, the CEO of The Iconic and parent of three, and we’re going to be discussing another powerful topic relating to teenage girls, the relationship between confidence and setting boundaries. So to make sure you don’t miss out, subscribe to the podcast in iTunes or wherever you get your podcasting goodness, and sign up to our mailing list for a reminder. Until then, keep fanning her flame.
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