Girls and the need to please everyone

JoAnn Deak, PhD Psychologist and Author, explains the science behind why some girls have the need to please everyone and offers advice for parents to help them focus more on their own selves
Raising Girls| Why Some Girls Have The Need To Please Everyone
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Girls and the need to please everyone

I wrote a chapter called, The Tyranny of Niceness. What that means is that for neuro biological reasons that are very complicated, just trust me on this, the female of the species is designed to want and need to please and to care about others. It's part of what keeps the species alive. That's very positive, caring about others and wanting to please them, but when it goes too far, it creates a human being who doesn't take risks, who is a victim, who can become an abused spouse. And so we see with girls that often it goes too far and especially during adolescence. And they lose their self. And they lose their sturdiness, So what can you do? That's always the question. What can you do? And one of the issues is, we see that if girls have what I call a way of filling their oxytocin needs - oxytocin is the chemical that wants helps us want to care more about others - but girls often fulfill that need to belong and care by their friends or their boyfriend. And if that's where they put all of that, then they become really dependent on that person and that person's views. So we want them to put their oxytocin needs, if you will, of caring about something other than yourself in other areas. How about this; tutoring younger children. Or going to the animal shelter and taking dogs for a walk on a saturday. When girls have other things that they care about in their life, they become less needy to become pleasers. And so it doesn't sound like it's correlated but we see huge differences in girls who care about other things, who have enough other things in their life to care about other than friends or boyfriends and it decreases the need to please.

JoAnn Deak, PhD Psychologist and Author, explains the science behind why some girls have the need to please everyone and offers advice for parents to help them focus more on their own selves


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JoAnn Deak, PhD

Psychologist & Author

JoAnn Deak, PhD, has spent more than 30 years as an educator and psychologist, helping children develop into confident and competent adults. The latter half of that period has also focused on working with adults, parents and teachers in their roles as guides or ‘neurosculptors’ of children. On her website is a quote that best describes her perspective on her work: “every interaction a child has, during the course of a day, influences the adult that child will become.”

Parents and educators at schools from New York to Hawaii, as well as such organizations as the National Association of School Psychologists, the National Association of Independent Schools, the Association of International Schools, the American Montessori Society and the International Baccalaureate Association, have heralded Dr. Deak’s ability to demystify complex issues of child development, learning, identify formation and brain research.

Dr. Deak has been an advisor to Outward Bound, a past chair of the National Committee for Girls and Women in Independent Schools, on the advisory board for the Center on Research for Girls (Laurel School), for the Seattle Girls’ School, Bromley Brook School, the Red Oak School, Power Play and GOAL. She consults with organizations and schools across the United States. Most recently, she has worked internationally with schools, organizations, associations and parent groups in every continent (except Antarctica!) She has been awarded the Woman of Achievement Award by the National Coalition of Girls’ Schools, was given the first Female Educator of the Year Award by Orchard House School, and the Outstanding Partner for Girls Award from Clemson University. She has been named the Visiting Scholar in New Zealand, the Visiting Scholar for Montessori Children’s House and has been the Resident Scholar for the Gardner Carney Leadership Institute in Colorado Springs for the past five years.

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