Help Girls Feel Confident In Spite of Bullies

Youth Sports Interview with Author Aureen Monteiro

When Aureen Monteiro’s daughter came home from school saying she was being bullied for playing soccer, Monteiro shared some of the lessons from her upcoming book, “Rise Higher.”

Monteiro and her daughter live in India, where girls are encouraged to play board games and discouraged from playing team sports. That’s why her daughter was being bullied–for being different, she says.

“Girls are not encouraged to play rough games,” she says. They’re not supposed to get hurt or to get scars.

Monteiro, who played basketball even though it wasn’t typical, has lots of scars, she says. 

“I tell my daughter, ‘I’m proud of my scars, they are a story. Own your story and be happy how you are, no matter what people say about you.’”

Monteiro says she focuses on building her daughter’s confidence.

An important strategy is to create a relationship that allows kids to confide in their parents, says Monteiro. 

“It’s pretty common for girls in sports to get bullied. I also got bullied a lot when I was a  kid. It has to do with the mindset of the culture here.” Kids need to be encouraged to share openly their feelings about being bullied with parents and friends, she says. If not, they might start to withdraw and get depressed. 

When sports kids do confide about being bullied,  help them learn how to respond. In Monteiro’s case, her daughter was also studying martial arts. She suggested that her daughter use her martial arts if kids at school try to hurt her physically.

“I tell her to make use of her skills to show she’s not going to get bullied. That has helped her feel more confident about solving her own problems. With each small win, she’s ready to take on more.”

Another piece of advice for kids being bullied: Remind young athletes that they need to focus on what they can control–not on what they can’t control. “What you can control is how you respond and how you act,” says Monteiro.

Listen to the Entire Interview with Aureen Monteiro:

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