cover image Under Pressure: Confronting the Epidemic of Stress and Anxiety in Girls

Under Pressure: Confronting the Epidemic of Stress and Anxiety in Girls

Lisa Damour. Ballantine, $27 (288p) ISBN 978-0-399-18005-7

Clinical psychologist Damour (Untangled) thoughtfully and compassionately discusses the many pitfalls faced by adolescent girls today, advising parents on how to help their daughters past obstacles while reinforcing confidence and minimizing stress. She begins by distinguishing between “healthy” and “unhealthy” stress, and observing that anxiety-riddled situations can provide learning opportunities. Damour astutely notes that, as awareness of psychological terminology increases, parents have begun to pathologize their children, such as by referring to simple shyness as “social anxiety.” Tackling the stereotype of backbiting teenage girls, Damour clarifies that young girls are most often supportive and kind to one another. Her instructions largely stress effective communication techniques, including responding to “meltdowns” calmly and empathetically and not offering “hollow reassurances.” Damour also considers thorny technology issues, such as how much social media monitoring by parents is actually healthy, and advises having shame-free conversations about sexual harassment and consent. A wealth of examples from her work in private practice and as a counselor at an all-girls private school underscores her advice, and she urges parents to remember that “We really were no different from our own children. We just had lame technology.” This is a remarkably thorough and accessible guide for raising girls into strong, independent women. Agent: Gail Ross, Ross Yoon Agency. (Feb.)