The Parenting Program changing lives for parents of tween and teen daughters.

TRANSCRIPT: EP. 5: The Relationship Between Confidence & Setting Boundaries, with Erica Berchtold


Tanya Meessmann: (00:00)
I’m Tanya Meessmann and in today’s episode of Raising Girl Shaped Flames, we’re looking at the role confidence plays for teenage girls when they’re setting boundaries.

Tanya Meessmann: (00:16)
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: (00:58)
Hi everyone and welcome to episode five of the Raising Girl Shaped Flames podcast. I’m your host, Tanya Meessmann and today we have a really important topic that we are speaking about with our special guest and of course our nine minutes of neuroscience. And that topic is setting boundaries and specifically looking at teenage girls and the confidence that is required, really, to set out their boundaries and to stick with them and make sure that they honour them, essentially. We have a fantastic special guest. She is a personal role model of my own, the CEO of The Iconic Erica Berchtold and mother of three. And today I speak to her about her own experience of setting boundaries personally and professionally and looking back on her own youth to determine whether she was intentional about devising her boundaries or whether they were slightly circumstantial. And then of course, Diane and I dive into my favorite nine minutes of every week, the nine minutes of neuroscience, where we really start looking at what lies underneath the challenges that face teenage girls when they are trying to put boundaries in place and more importantly when they’re trying to stick to them.

Tanya Meessmann: (02:09)
Now, the reason why this topic is incredibly important is because as we know, boundaries really represent our own values and principles and we have to have those in place to lead lives that not only we can be proud of, but that we show how much we respect ourselves. What I was most fascinated to dig into was as always the role that confidence plays and how much confidence one really needs in order to set their boundaries and hold firm to them. So that’s something we really dig into with both Erica and Diane. Diane also very generously has put together a quick reference sheet because we do give some very specific tactical suggestions for parents as to how you can support your daughter in the development of her boundaries. And also just the recognition and putting them in place. One thing Erica and I touch on is a slight regret on not being more intentional about putting boundaries in place earlier on.

Tanya Meessmann: (03:06)
So as a parent, being able to help your daughter do that as well as how to support her through the act of keeping those boundaries in place. Particularly we find with the older girls the impetus to bend and nudge their boundaries for social inclusion and social acceptance can get greater throughout the later years in high school, so don’t worry. We’re going to get into all of that. Diane’s done a fantastic download so as always that’s in the show notes so you can grab the setting boundaries, quick reference sheet obviously while you’re there, sign up for our mailing list so you can get your little nudge every time we have a new episode coming out. Enough of all that, I want to get straight into this interview with Erica. I was very grateful that she took time out of her busy schedule to speak with me and we ended up having a fantastically passionate chat.


Tanya Meessmann: (03:50)
So on with the show. Alright, so if you don’t know Erica Berchtold, she is the CEO of The Iconic, she was the previous managing director of the sports division at Super Retail Group, she’s currently a director of the Sydney FC football club and she’s a proud mum of two daughters and a son. She’s incredibly passionate about supporting women in both business and sport. And she actively mentors women within both of those fields. She’s also an accomplished keynote speaker who values courage, humility, resilience and curiosity so you can see why she is one of my favorite people. Erica, I’m so thrilled to have you on the Raising Girl Shaped Flames podcast today, not only for your own embodiment of confidence and courage and self belief that we promote so strongly here at Girl Shaped Flames, but also for the insight that you can provide us as a mother and as a leader for our listeners.

Erica Berchtold: (04:39)
Thanks Tanya. It’s really nice to be here today, particularly in the middle of a global pandemic where it can all be very serious and dry and future looking, it’s actually nice to take a moment to reflect and to talk about something that’s actually really important

Tanya Meessmann: (04:55)
Look, so absolutely thrilled to have you here Erica, and we’re going to have a fantastic chat. Before we get into today’s topic where we’re looking at the relationship between confidence and setting boundaries, I’d like to start at the top and get to know a little bit about your own personal confidence. So if we can think back to when you were a teenager, were you naturally confident or did you have to sort of develop it in some way?

Erica Berchtold: (05:17)
It’s funny, a few years ago I ran into someone that I knew from back when I was a teenager and they were like,: “Wow Erica, I’ve really followed your career and you were always going to end up in that sort of role”. And I was like: “What, what are you talking about?” And they’re like: “You were always so confident and just so driven”. And I was like: “Was I?” I just didn’t have that sort of reflection of myself back then. And so I have pondered that whole question over the last couple of years and, and I thought, yeah, okay. I think I actually was naturally confident, and then I thought to myself, well, why, like why was I so audacious to have this inherent confidence about myself? And I think it came from the fact that I’m the eldest of four kids, and so there’s some natural leadership that you assume when you are the eldest child. Andnd I’m also the eldest of my cousins as well. So in the family that we spent a lot of time with, my maternal side of the family, I was the oldest child, so I was a bit of the ringleader, the organiser. I also being the eldest, spent a lot of time with my grandparents when I was young and they were just the best cheer squad ever. And they were real battlers. My Nanna is still alive, actually. She’s 91, lives in an apartment by herself up at Broadbeach, it’s like she’s on permanent schoolies week. And I said, “Nan, don’t you feel like you’re on holidays?” And she’s like: “Oh, yes, it’s wonderful”. And they were just so great. They just gave me the confidence to just think I could do anything.

Erica Berchtold: (06:49)
And then I went to a girl’s high school, Cheltenham Girls High School in Sydney. And I’ve spoken about that a bit lately and I know people have very particular views on single-sex or coed schools and you know, everyone is able to have their own opinion on that. My own personal opinion for me was that a girl’s school was an excellent stomping ground for a teenage girl like me to suddenly realise that girls could be leaders. And you just didn’t even think otherwise because every leadership position in the school was taken by a girl.

Tanya Meessmann: (07:25)
Yeah, I was the same. I went to an all girls and there was never a concept of “why wouldn’t a girl be in charge”? We all were.

Erica Berchtold: (07:39)
You know, it was a girl that would come first in the academic studies, in the athletics, in the leadership. And then the final one is I didn’t have a very affluent upbringing, but one thing my parents did make sure we had money to do was to play sport, to participate in a lot of sports. And I’ve read a lot recently about girls that played team sports. The relation between that and females in CEO or managing director positions, there’s a direct correlation. And I think it’s just that there’s a certain level of confidence, particularly during those teenage years, that team sports and sports brings you, and learning to collaborate I think was something that probably gave me some of that confidence as well. So big shout out to North Epping Ranges, netball club.

Tanya Meessmann: (08:30)
Absolutely. I think you’re getting out of your comfort zone on a very regular basis when it comes to sport and team sport and you’re being pushed to understand your own abilities and challenged by others. And so you mentioned your grandparents being fairly involved cheerleaders in your life. Can you think about any other influences or whether there were people or things that helped you build your confidence? You’ve mentioned sport and your grandparents. What has continued to keep building that confidence?

Erica Berchtold: (09:00)
Firstly I have a very solid network of girlfriends. We all went to school together. We’re still friends now during these COVID times. We’re doing virtual drinks on a Friday night and we are very big supporters of each other. And actually all of them have got parents that are very big supporters of women doing great things as well. And so they certainly have been a big influence and support for me. I then think early in my career I started working for Harvey Norman and that was a tremendous business. Jerry Harvey was great, and still is great, and his wife Katie Page is extraordinary and she was a real stand out for me and just someone that I was like, wow, like she’s a real force to be reckoned with. And she’s someone, when I got the job at The Iconic, actually before it was even announced, I don’t know how she found out, but I just got this call through my phone life, no caller ID one day. And I’m sitting in my car, I remember even where I was and she’s like “This is great, this is wonderful. This is always what you were supposed to do”. And I’m like, who is this? And she’s like: “It’s Katie!” Okay, thanks Katie.

Tanya Meessmann: (10:08)
So there’s a consistent presence of people reaffirming your self worth and reaffirming your ability. And also reaffirming, I imagine, your right to be where you are. So knowing what you know now of the world, do you believe the proactive development of confidence in young girls, like what Girl Shaped Flames is spearheading, and there’s a lot of other girl focused entities out there. Do you believe that it’s important that we actually are proactively trying to build girls’ confidence rather than just sort of leaving them to hopefully develop it over life? And if so, why?

Erica Berchtold: (10:43)
Yes, I think it’s really important and that’s because society, whether you like it or not, reality is society is still playing catch up in the whole concept of equality and my husband and I have these debates all the time because he just, he’s got two sisters, strong, strong women as sisters. And he’s got a strong woman as a wife. So he thinks “Well no, of course it must be like all equal and all just easy for everyone”. Are you kidding me? Like everything is so much more set up for men to naturally assume positions of authority or power. And, and he’s like, well, what do you mean? Even just things like parental leave or just, you know, why is it that I have to work really hard and I’ve got young kids, they want to set meetings at 8:00 AM in the morning, when I actually just can’t get my act together then or you know, like we’re not really thinking about that.

Erica Berchtold: (11:39)
And then why is it that I still play such a role in the family unit as well as in a business unit? Like why is that not equal? And actually it’s something I just naturally assume as well. And so I’ve got to break down the stereotypes in my own head first before I can help break them down in broader society. So if I even have them subconsciously in my mind, then of course we need to actually overemphasise the importance of women having to develop the self confidence to really put themselves forward. And so not only do I think society is still playing catch up that whole sense of equality, we have to overemphasise the role that women are going to play and really overemphasise the support for women just to maybe try and end up halfway,

Tanya Meessmann: (12:31)
And without that innate confidence and self belief, then we’re never going to catch up. We’re never going to be closing that gap. Okay, great. So this is excellent. This has provided a fantastic baseline for now, when we’re going to get into the juicy stuff. Today’s topic, we’re going to look at the relationship between confidence and setting boundaries. Now I know that there are a lot of parents listening who are very, I imagine nervous about the boundaries their daughters may or may not set for themselves and may or may not maintain for themselves. And they’re sitting there thinking, how do I help my daughter or A: are boundaries important? And B: how do I help my daughter set them and stick to them and figure them out? So what I want to know firstly from you, what do you actually think is the relationship between confidence and the ability to set and maintain personal boundaries?

Erica Berchtold: (13:24)
I think confidence allows you to recognise the boundaries that need to be set before you even start to try and set them. And you need to recognise what boundaries actually are. And I think people could feel like setting boundaries is something that’s a bit aggressive or arrogant. And actually, you know, I did a quick Google search yesterday on what are healthy boundaries or you know, I know what my interpretation of it is, but you know, and on this Google search that came up, it’s signs of healthy boundaries: saying no without guilt. Asking for what you want or need, taking care of yourself. Saying yes because you want to, not because you’re just trying to please others. And when you read through this stuff, it’s like, well, hang on a second.

Erica Berchtold: (14:12)
This is like how is that in any way inappropriate for someone to want to set for themselves and then why is it that women do find it, and even I find it hard to say no without guilt. I bet you my husband doesn’t, or other men that I know in the workforce don’t. And so where I’ve been worried that the whole setting of boundaries was so subconscious for me that maybe that was a bit too risky for it to play out nicely for my girls. Actually what I want more than anything is for girls to have confidence to set their boundaries, but to not even find it a conscious thing to have to do. I just want it to be so normal for them. I think it is for men and boys and I’m not trying to be one of those people that stomps all over the men in the world and says, Oh God, they’ve got it so easy or whatever. It’s just they naturally find it easier to do and I just want girls to naturally find it easy to do as well.

Tanya Meessmann: (15:09)
Yeah, absolutely. I think there’s, again, we’re going to go into broad sweeping generalisations here, but you know, I believe that men and boys as they’re raised are done so with more of a sense of pragmatism and objectivity and less of a sense of emotional requirements or emotional commitments. Whereas girls are often taught to care for things and to look after things and to be gentle with things and it’s interesting because then that’s just seeding all of the almost apologetic behaviour and also having to ask permission behavior. So all those things you just read out from the Google search, so many of them are, is that okay? Do you mind if I just go and pop out for an hour and have some time or do you mind if I sit over here? It becomes this very permission based thing, whereas the act of setting boundaries is to go, I don’t have to ask permission because this is my boundary and I’ve decided this is where it is. And to have that confidence inside you do not worry about upsetting others because you’re setting boundary.

Erica Berchtold: (16:16)
Yeah, exactly.

Tanya Meessmann: (16:17)
So at what point in your life did you realise that the setting of boundaries was a healthy practice that you should be doing?

Erica Berchtold: (16:24)
Well, I think it wasn’t a conscious thing for me to set boundaries. And that actually makes the whole concept of a little bit scary because I ended up there by accident and therefore I want to be more conscious of it and help others be more conscious in setting them and help maybe some girls that are less confident than what I was as a teenager actually set some boundaries for themselves. So I think it was probably over the last 10 years or so, particularly as my career started to accelerate that I realised I needed to be quite firm. And, you know, the higher up I got in my career, actually the harder I had to fight for some things that were just important. Whether that be equality of pay or just being treated fairly and reasonably as I went through the process of having children.

Tanya Meessmann: (17:26)
I think there’s an important self-understanding that has to happen before girls can even be putting those boundaries in place because they need to understand what their values are and what is important to them. As you said before, you got to a point in your career where there’s a little thing inside you going “oh ding ding, that thing that they’ve just asked me to do that’s crossing a line I have somewhere that I didn’t know I had”

Erica Berchtold: (17:46)
Yes and I think also there were moments where I wavered in my confidence. So when I had my first child, my son back in 2014, I really had a bit of a lapse of confidence at that time. And I don’t know whether it was just hormonally I was going through something quite, you know, enormous or whether it was just a true you know, kind of issue with my own self confidence. But I remember feeling just grateful to still even have a job because I was having a child and, and I look back at that now and go, what the hell? Like, how should that even have been something that entered my mind that and I just felt like I should accept anything and if that meant I was going to be paid at a lesser rate than some of my colleagues or what have you, I felt like that should be okay because at least I’ve still got my job when I want to have a child. And there was nothing that forced me to feel that way necessarily, but I just naturally felt it and I think I let it build up in my own head a lot and I had to really consciously snap myself out of it. And it’s through some of those other support networks that I spoke about earlier, like my girlfriends, my sisters, um, friends’ parents, my executive coach, et cetera, that I was able to actually build my confidence back up again.

Tanya Meessmann: (19:12)
Yeah. I think that so much of that comes down to this sense of deserving whether we deserve something or not and why does someone else deserve it more than others?

Erica Berchtold: (19:24)
Yes. But you know, fast forward a few years and in 2018, late 2018 I was negotiating with The Iconic to join them as CEO and ended up having to say to them, look, because I was very, very early pregnant at the time I was due to sign the contract. I thought, look, I’m just going to be open and honest here, and ended up saying to them, look, I’m probably having a baby next year. And because it was so early you wouldn’t normally be telling people, right? So I’m probably having a baby next year. Well I get it if that’s a deal breaker for you, I know that’s probably not a legal conversation to be having, but I get it if it’s a deal breaker and I’d rather just be open with you about that now. And if we need to walk away, that’s fine. I understand. And they were like, no, of course not. Like you’re the right person for the role and you’ll have some other people step up and cover you when you have your baby and wow, that’s amazing. That was a real game changer for me. And that’s the sort of bunsiness I wanted to work for and I wanted to lead.

Tanya Meessmann: (20:29)
What I love about that example is two things. One: isn’t that amazing that you as strong as you are and as accomplished as you are and as determined as you are, you got to the point where you almost had to ask permission to have a baby, your third child and you know, multiple big jobs and your own boundary setting was wavering a bit like: “Oh, I don’t know”. And then secondly, because I had read an article where you had spoken of that situation, the response from the public to that story being a bit like “gosh, wasn’t she brave telling them that she was pregnant?” I mean, gosh, and you kind of go seriously, is that the society we’re living in where it’s brave to try to set your own boundaries and to say I’m having a child and the child is not the not the negotiable. And by the way, my husband’s having a child as well.

Erica Berchtold: (21:24)
And that’s where I say society, whether we like it or not, it is just playing catch up a bit, right? And so, and if I’ve got those little niggles in the back of my head and I’m pretty forward thinking when it comes to this stuff, then we’ need to just keep marching forward, and flying the flag and giving girls confidence.

Tanya Meessmann: (21:43)
Yeah. And the more we can role model that behaviour, I think that’s why so many people were so grateful for you to also be quite open and honest about that experience that you’ve had. It’s because the more we can role model to girls that it’s okay to stand your ground, it’s okay to have self worth, you know, you are the right person for the job, then all the better for them and they, we know they follow role modeling. So it’s incredibly powerful. Can you tell me about a time where you’ve had to quite strenuously force a boundary that you’ve had?and I’m not talking a nice, polite conversation across the table about the fact you’re now pregnant. I’m talking, you’ve had a boundary and someone’s really trying to get you to move it. Have you had to enforce it and, and how do you do that?

Erica Berchtold: (22:33)
It’s an interesting one. The biggest one I’ve got is around remuneration. Earlier in my career, I won’t say where and who, but I had a boss who was awesome, but it wasn’t solely his decision as to what everybody got paid. There’s remuneration committees and boards and stuff like that, which mind you had a lot of women on them as well. But having to explain why maybe I deserved equal pay to some of my colleagues, who by the way were running smaller businesses and delivering less profit to the business, yet I was having to explain why maybe it wasn’t fair for me to be earning a little bit less and and I felt really bad for my boss at the time. It isn’t that interesting. I felt really bad for him because he was in a tough situation because I’m pretty sure he would have understood my argument but there was nothing he could do about it.

Erica Berchtold: (23:35)
And, and I really had to hold quite firm and just say this is not okay. And actually it was one of the things that made me decide that, that probably the organisation for me to stay working at. And I just thought, you know, I’m the most senior woman in the organisation and I’m finding that I’m having to like, I felt disingenuous or something, you know, standing there flying the flag for women’s equality, and you know, I kind of felt a bit like the poster girl for strong women and you know, international women’s day, “Let’s get Erica to talk about this or that”, when I was having to have those sort of battles behind the scenes myself. And then I’d go through all of the things in my own mind of, Oh, am I just being a bit greedy and all, I’ve had kids over the years and some maternity leave, so I should just be grateful?

Erica Berchtold: (24:26)
And it’s like, no, I shouldn’t. I shouldn’t actually. Because as I said before, my husband had a child as well. We shareour children. I remember saying to my boss one day, I said, now listen, when I gave birth, they actually allowed me to keep all of my brains. I’m not sure if they didn’t do that for you though, but they actually allowed me to keep all of my brains. So I was kinda thinking I should get paid what I contribute. And so that was something that I really had to dig my heels in about, andhold quite firm on. There’s been experiences where I lacked the confidence to keep those sort of boundaries in place. So there had been other times in my career where I’d kind of caved on those sort of conversations or I’d wave it away. And I kind of didn’t put my money where my mouth was. You know, I kind of just put up with it. I guess. That wasn’t okay and I wish I would have held firmer back then and, and maybe called their bluff and maybe left that organisation or, um, you know, really had some tougher conversations on it.

Tanya Meessmann: (25:43)
Did you find it easier when you were younger? If you think back to when you were in high school, your 15, 16 year old self? Like did she stick to her boundaries or do you think that you weren’t very good at it when you were younger and you figured it out as you’ve been faced with more challenges? Or do you think it was innately inside you and then maybe you lost some of that as time went on and you felt, you know, you’re in spaces that you’re trying to navigate?

Tanya Meessmann: (25:43)
Did you find it easier when you were younger? If you think back to when you were in high school, your 15, 16 year old self? Like did she stick to her boundaries or do you think that you weren’t very good at it when you were younger and you figured it out as you’ve been faced with more challenges? Or do you think it was innately inside you and then maybe you lost some of that as time went on and you felt, you know, you’re in spaces that you’re trying to navigate?

Erica Berchtold: (26:09)
I actually think I probably had it a lot more when I was younger. So that’s an interesting thing. I think the 15 year old me would have probably said “Get nicked” So I don’t know what made me then kind of feel like I had to waver on that or I’m glad I found it back again. You know what, my early twenties were an interesting time. Like that’s probably where I had the biggest kind of decisions to make about who I wanted to be or principles or what I was going to stand for and probably around boundaries. Because you’re suddenly out of the cocoon of your family unit and having to make a lot more decisions yourself. And that doesn’t mean your family is not there for you, but you are an adult and you have to. And it’s hard sometimes. So I came full circle and I ended up back there, but there were a few journeys of wavering confidence along the way.

Tanya Meessmann: (27:11)
So how do you think we could be helping teenage girls develop the confidence to set their own boundaries and maybe learn that art of doing so that you’ve gone full circle and sort of rediscovered with your own confidence, how can we be teaching teenage girls to do this at an earlier age?

Erica Berchtold: (27:31)
I would think getting them to say that it’s actually a necessary thing but a normal thing, so we’d need to just normalise it and that perhaps helps them more than anything else that we could do around that. This podcast that we’re doing now has been a really beneficial thing for me to do because I’m going to articulate signs of setting boundaries and healthy boundaries and stuff more than what I probably have before. So everything’s a learning journey. So I’ve learned a lot from even just putting some thoughts together for our conversation today.

Tanya Meessmann: (28:06)
Yeah. Well, so maybe then stimulating that maybe if parents can actually make a concerted effort to have the conversation with their daughters around what boundaries do you think you have and why do you have them as well? And just stimulating that thought process.

Erica Berchtold: (28:23)
And I think also, I mean, I don’t do a lot of these sort of podcasts or interviews or things really, because I just like to just get on with what I do, but I’m now doing a little bit more just because I think it could be beneficial for people to see someone that they could be. And I don’t think I’m that amazing or that far off what everybody else is that they can’t do what I do or have my sort of mentality about things. And, you know, one of my nieces, my niece Maya, she’s about 12 or so now, I remember a few years ago she was doing a school assignment and she said to me “Aunty Erica, who’s your role model?” And I had to really stop and think about it. And I was very disappointed. I don’t think I’ve got one.

Erica Berchtold: (29:12)
And I thought, well, that’s a really sad thing. And so I thought, Oh, I don’t want other people to not have role models. I don’t know that there’s ever going to be one person that you just want to be like, it’s probably a little bits from a lot of different people. So if I can offer a little few bits that someone might find helpful or inspiring and then they get something from someone else and something from someone else, I think that’s important. And so we need to be visible. Women need to help bring this stuff to life and to show that it’s normal. And I think if you can see it playing out and coming to life, then I think that helps people find them normal.

Tanya Meessmann: (29:50)
I think what I’ve found as well is it’s about humanising, and giving a reality that girls can reference. Because they’ve have grown up in a world of, I don’t want to go into the social media side of things, but you know, filters and reality TV and everything being very big, very produced. And I know that when I’ve worked with a few thousand girls over the last couple of years and when I get to do really good close time with them, later on a number of them have come back and said, or their parents will say to me later, you know, “Oh gosh, you’re such a role model to them and they really look up to you”. And I think it’s because they got to actually see me in all my glory and when I stuff up, all of our vulnerabilities.

Tanya Meessmann: (30:38)
But at the end of the day, I am showing them: this is how I have lived a very courageous and fulfilling life. These are the things I did. These are the ways I made decisions. And for them to see that in a very, like we’re doing today in a way that is real and it’s not produced and it’s not, we’re not cutting out all of the less than ideal bits. That in itself is very powerful. So the fact that women like you and myself and the other women that I engage with these programs, the fact that we are getting out there and getting more visible in itself I believe is going to help shape this generation to become more self accepting and more self deserving and more courageous. Now you are responsible for bringing up two of the future generation of our young, strong, confident and courageous women. I know they’re a little bit younger, so you’ve got a little way to go. But how do you believe that either you are currently helping or how do you lyou think in the back of your mind you’re going to help your daughters learn how to set those boundaries or build their confidence in order to have boundaries?

Erica Berchtold: (31:44)
So I think firstly, I also have a son and I think the importance of bringing up men, future men that are going to be supportive and open to strong women, let’s not underestimate that. And actually, you know, I think it’s really great. I’ve had a couple of boys’ schools recently ask me to come and speak to their students and I thought “wow, isn’t that interesting?” And when they showed me the list of all the people that have been there before talking to these schools, it’s all men. This is really great. This is progressive. We need our future generations of men to be supportive of women and to find it normal that women are strong and confident. When it comes to my daughters though, you know, they’re two and a half and 10 months old. I think I want to make sure I give them the same opportunities as my son and I want to recognise the kind of unconscious bias and that are out there, but also give them the confidence to make their own decisions even if that sees them ending up playing out to a stereotype a little bit.

Erica Berchtold: (32:49)
I think also with my daughters, what I want to make sure I really drum into them is that confidence does not mean you’re arrogant and men and boys somehow don’t feel that. They’re just not, I don’t know. They’re just naturally confident. Whereas I know myself as a woman, I think I felt that that line is blurred sometimes if you’re confident, that means you’re arrogant and that’s not the case. You can be confident and humble at the same time. And I think they are two very great things to be. So I think that’s what I will try and help my daughters learn and understand.

Tanya Meessmann: (33:25)
Yes, yes. All fantastic things. Very lucky girls to have you as their mum. Final thing now, we’ve reflected on 15 year old Erica a couple of times today. And so going back to her one more time, if there’s something that you could tell your 15 year old self, what would it be?

Erica Berchtold: (33:46)
Two things. First one is you’re going to read a quote later on that’s really going to resonate with you. And it’s a quote by Eleanor Roosevelt that says, no one can make you feel inferior without your consent. And I think that’s something that’s really going to be important for you to understand that just because people are horrible, or do silly things or stupid things or whatever. Just don’t let that impact you. You get a decision in whether that has an impact on you or not. The second thing I would tell my 15 year old self is just keep going. You’re on the right track. Just one foot in front of the other, keep going. It’s all going to be okay.

Tanya Meessmann: (34:24)
Yes. Nice. Well thank you so much. We covered a lot today and I’m really, really grateful for your time. So thank you again. I’m not going to say good luck with the new job cause you’re pretty settled in now but good luck with everything for the rest of 2020 and enjoying your new-ish bubba as well. Thank you so much.

Erica Berchtold: (34:45)
Thanks so much Tanya.

Tanya Meessmann: (34:47)
A fantastic strong female role model, not just for our girls but for us as women out there, raising strong girls. Now, something we touched on in that conversation was around confidence and obviously the importance of having the confidence to stand by your values, and the things that you use in order to put your boundaries in place. And you know, that’s my passion point, helping our girls be as competent as they can. So before we get into the chat with Di, I did just want to mention we actually have an online course for teenage girls called “Stronger Than You Know”, and it’s a course I facilitate. It’s a self paced seven module course there where I really step the girls through developing a much deeper understanding of exactly what Erica and I were talking about, understanding their own values, understanding who they are as people, and getting them to really see where they’re putting their self limitation in place and where they can break through those.

Tanya Meessmann: (35:40)
It’s a course that I’m really passionate about. It is our signature course. So if you’d like to check it out, just head over to our courses page and look up “Stronger Than You Know”, on our Girl Shaped Flames website. Alright. To understand the journey that our teenage girls go through and while they are setting their boundaries and sticking to them. And also to understand a little bit better about some of the traits that we can attribute to girls who find it easier to set boundaries and keep them in place versus some of the girls who struggle a little bit more.


We’re going to dive into our nine minutes of neuroscience with Dr Diane Harner. Welcome back, Diane. How are you going?

Dr Diane Harner: (36:15)
Hey Tanya. Good. Great to be back again.

Tanya Meessmann: (36:17)
We’ve got another fantastic and really important topic and particularly for the parents of all teenagers, but specifically we’re looking at girls. So I want to dive straight in. Let’s get into setting boundaries and how can we do that? What does it even mean?

Dr Diane Harner: (36:36)
Yeah, we always sought out with a bit of a definition, don’t we? So a simple way of thinking about what boundaries are, is when we ask our girls to decide what is okay for them and what is not okay. What is acceptable behaviour or an acceptable way of of being versus what is not accepteable to them. So from our brain’s perspective, it really is the decision of what is safe for me and what is unsafe for me, what represents a reward and what represents a threat. So there’s a really strong connection between boundaries and social acceptance or rejection. And we know in the teenage years in particular that social acceptance is incredibly important. So we feel more okay about enforcing our boundaries when we feel secure and accepted by the people that we are with. So for instance, you might find that your girls enforce their boundaries more strongly with you than they do with their friends because they feel more safe and secure in their relationship with you.

Tanya Meessmann: (37:51)
Right? So what is it, how do some girls have a better or stronger ability for enforcing their boundaries and other girls don’t? Other girls let them slide more easily.

Dr Diane Harner: (38:05)
So what happens is that we’re more likely to drop our boundaries and not enforce our boundaries when we feel like there might be some kind of negative judgment or rejection or a lack of acceptance with our social group. We know that it’s very closely linked to self esteem. And in particular where the girls are deriving their self esteem from. So what I mean by that is that you can build self esteem intrinsically, which means that it comes from a place of you knowing what it means to be a good person and noticing when you are a good person, which then builds your self esteem and your sense of value and worth and confidence in yourself.

Dr Diane Harner: (38:53)
Now the other way that we can build our self esteem is externally. So what that means is when we seek validation for who we are from external sources like our friendship groups, what it means is that we only know that we are good when somebody else tells us we are good and we know that the girls who are drawing their self esteem externally are more sensitive to that social rejection and judgment from others and will also be the girls who will be more likely to relax their boundaries in those social situations. The wonderful thing about having intrinsic validation is that it’s determined by you. You are the one who decides who is a good person and how you want to be to live your life in alignment with that. So you can always rely on yourself for that self-esteem.

Tanya Meessmann: (39:55)
Yeah, I talk a lot with the girls about the only consistent thing that you have in your life from the day you were born until the day you die is you. And that every other facet of your life is temporary.

Dr Diane Harner: (40:06)
I love that.

And even loved ones and relationships that we have, they all have the ability to come and go. But so too do the things that put us into positions where we might feel as though we need to compromise our values and our boundaries is that those people in our life, they also can be temporary as well. Friendship groups change, high school ends. So really the only thing that is consistent is you for the important work that should be put into developing yourself and your own beliefs.

Dr Diane Harner: (40:36)
So we can’t have this conversation without talking about our good friend dopamine. So we know that dopamine is involved in the anticipation or prediction of reward. And there is nothing more rewarding to the human brain than a positive social interaction. So when we are talking with somebody, we predict that it will be a positive interaction and we look forward to the dopamine that we get as a result of having that interaction. But where things go a little bit awry is when the response or the social interaction that we have doesn’t go as we predicted it. So when we predict a positive social interaction, but for one or another reason we have a negative social interaction instead, it’s what’s called a social prediction era. And that feels really horrible to the brain because our brain loves to be able to predict everything. And when we don’t predict properly, it goes, hang on a minute, that wasn’t right. And also we don’t get any dopamine. So then what happens is the next time we’re having a social interaction and somebody offers a cigarette, we remember the last time we enforced our boundaries around cigarettes and that it didn’t go well. So your brain goes, you know what? That didn’t work out last time, let’s just back off on that. Accept the cigarette. Because if we do that, there’s going to be a positive social interaction and we’ll get that shot of dopamine.

Tanya Meessmann: (42:13)
So then would it be safe to say that the girls who can comfortably repeatedly turn down the cigarette offer is because they weren’t expecting the person to really like it? You know, they weren’t expecting the person to respond positively. They probably knew that the person might think a certain thing about them, but they have a strong enough intrinsic self motivation and self awareness and self respect essentially that the response has less of an impact on them and they don’t worry about it as much.

Dr Diane Harner: (42:46)
Would that be safe to say? Yeah, that’s right. So if we have our self esteem driven intrinsically where we know that even if we enforce our boundary and there’s a negative response that we are still a good person, we are going to be more likely to enforce that boundary. And you know, we learn from these experiences as well. So as much as we learned from the negative experience, from setting boundaries, we also learned from the positive experience of setting boundaries. So if we set a boundary and then it works out, we remember that as well. So this is why it’s really important to give your daughter the opportunity for successfully enforcing boundaries whenever she can and you know, celebrate that with her.

Tanya Meessmann: (43:34)
So I know there are a number of parents listening who no doubt have been fascinated by everything we’ve covered, but they’re also eagerly awaiting some clear instructions on exactly how they can help their daughter identify and establish these boundaries And then how can they help them enforce them in a really supportive way?

Dr Diane Harner: (43:48)
So the first thing is to open up that conversation and explore with your daughter about what is okay for her and what is not okay for her. And one thing that I did with my eldest child was we ran scenarios. We said, you know, pretend that we are in this situation, what would you do? And by getting them to think through how things might go and what their response might be and, and what the positive and negative outcomes of that might be. It’s like your practicing for the game. So when they’re in that situation, they won’t have to come up with their response on the spot. It will have been well thought through and they’ll be more prepared for that. The second thing is really focusing on building that intrinsic self esteem, helping them to notice when they do behaviours and when they act in a way that is in alignment with what they believe is good rather than what somebody else believes is good.

Dr Diane Harner: (44:54)
And once you’ve identified those boundaries, it is great to be able to allow your daughter to test enforcing those boundaries.And it can be something very, very simple. So for my daughter, she has a boundary around eating steamed zucchini. She will not do it. Or even though she will eat zucchini in all its other forms, so she refuses to, she says, no, I’m not going to eat that. I questioned her about why, because I want her to be thoughtful about it, not just to set a boundary for the sake of setting it. She explained to me why, that she doesn’t like the texture, the wife fields and that’s why she doesn’t want to eat it. And as a result, I respect that. I understand why you have that boundary and thank you for putting that in place. And the last one is when they tell you stories of times where they have enforced a boundary, even when there has been a negative outcome, celebrate the fact that they did it and then co-regulate with them through the negative feelings they’re having, if there are any, as a result of enforcing that boundary.

Tanya Meessmann: (46:01)
Excellent advice. Thank you so much. I think we’ve got a lot to think about off the back of this one and hopefully we’ll have some of our parents seeing some success moving forward supporting their daughters and setting their boundaries. Once again. Thank you very much. Look forward to doing it all again next week.

Dr Diane Harner: (46:18)
See you soon!


Tanya Meessmann: (46:19)
and that’s it for setting boundaries this week we covered a lot, so I hope you got some great insights that you’ll be able to apply when you’re supporting your daughter’s development of our own boundaries and the competence to keep them in place. So don’t forget about the setting boundaries strategy sheet that Dr Diane Harner prepared for this week’s episode. Just head over to the show notes where you can download it. It’s a hot topic. So we are going to be discussing it in more detail over in our Raising Girls Shaped Flames Facebook group, which I would love you to come and join. It’s a fantastic community of other parents discussing how to raise confident and self-assured girls. We have a slew of amazing special guests lined up over the coming weeks, so to make sure you don’t miss out, subscribe to this podcast in iTunes or wherever you get your podcast in goodness and sign up to our mailing list for a reminder. Until then, keep fanning those flames.

Subscribe on your favourite podcast player:

Never Miss An Episode

Subscribe to our newsletter to be notified of new episodes, plus receive weekly Confidence Comms featuring useful information, tips, strategies and advice on how to raise confident, courageous daughters.

Share this post with your friends

People also listened to

EPISODE 16. Season 2 Teaser

Subscribe on your favourite podcast player: Aaaaaand we’re back! This teaser looks ahead to Season 2 of the Raising Girl Shaped Flames Podcast, including upcoming topics such as Stop ‘fixing’

Listen »