Every girl can be brave, if they are given the chance.
I don't mean bungee jumping, or sky-diving brave - although that is a possibility - I mean ready-to-face-the-world-with-confidence-kind-of-brave.
Now, more than ever before, is the time to make sure our girls grow up to be brave and courageous. Media stories drive fear. Schools often teach kids to regurgitate facts, rather than how to think. "No!" and "You can't" are common directives. So often girls miss out on opportunities because they don't persevere in the face of a challenge. Sadly, girls are often afraid to fight for themselves.
Whether your daughters grow up to be executives or whether they take on the demanding role of a stay-at-home mom, they are far more likely to reach their potential if we help them face the world with bravery.
Fostering bravery starts when girls are young. Rather than giving fear a stranglehold on our girls, let's plant seeds of courage and boldness and nurture them as they grow .
As a mother of three girls, I want them to face the world with courage, self-confidence and compassion, knowing that they are capable and strong. Don't you want that for the girls in our life, too?
7 Ways to Grow Brave Girls in a Fear-Filled World:
(By the way, many of these principles are true for boys as well but I feel like girls need more encouragement in the bravery department.)
1. Don't treat them like they are fragile
Let them play outside, climb trees and carry heavy things. I'm all about being feminine but show your girls they are capable and strong.
2. Give them space to explore and try things
Back off! Whether they are playing or trying to figure out how to build something or solve a homework problem, let them have some space to figure it out. There is so much confidence to be gained when a child finds a solution on their own. Remember, the goal is to get our girls to think, not just come to a predetermined end point.
3. Let them make mistakes
This is a hard one for us adults to do. We are so afraid that if our kids make a mistake, they will get hurt or will fall from some imagined narrow path of success. But it is so critical and necessary for our girls to understand the consequences of their actions. For instance, it is ok to let your little one play in the yard and get a scrape. Band-aids are cheap! They learn better that way than if you are always controlling the outcome. Don't micro-manage their homework or do their school projects. They need to accept their own responsibility.
4. Let them get dirty
Getting dirty is fun. Getting muddy is even better. Did you know that digging in dirt feeds the development of their sensory system, helping them to become physically and mentally strong? But more on a heart level, getting dirty leads to bravery because it is the chance to explore, to have novel experiences, and do things that are out of the ordinary.
5. Let them use tools
One of the best things my dad did for me was let me use tools. I can remember when he taught me to use his power saw. I was probably 10. I felt so empowered. I knew he thought I was capable and it made me feel like I could do anything! This carried throughout my life. So teach your daughters how to use a hammer. When you think they are ready, teach them to use a drill and a saw. Not only does if give them a valuable life skill, it gives them confidence, feelings of self-sufficiency and pride in what they are capable of.
6. Teach them to persevere
When I work with kids, I often see them quit at the first hint of difficulty or struggle. In order to be brave, one needs to be able to persevere through a challenge. The best way we can do this is by modelling it for our girls. Do we quit when things get hard? Or do we look for new solutions? We can also help our girls by walking them through the process. We can ask them, "What's another way we can try this?" or come along side and say, "Let's try this again." Innovation and invention doesn't usually happen on the first try. To help our girls be brave world-changers , they will need to know how to push through obstacles and persevere.
7. Coach them to be confident in their abilities
A struggle for many adult women is confidence in their own ability. While it may not be true of all women, I know it to be true for many, myself included. We need to teach our girls to have positive self-talk.
I am strong
I am capable
I have abilities
This is the mantra our girls need to have in their minds. Find ways to show them this is true and reinforce it. Study your child and foster their bent. Some will be musicians, some scientists, some athletes, some artists. Whatever strengths and abilities you see in your daughter. Foster those things. Also encourage those positive traits such as kindness, generosity and empathy. Our world needs more of that kind of brave.
So, make the decision to develop braveness in your daughters in the upcoming days. I would love to see some pictures of your daughters being brave. Post them in the comments or on the Skipping Stones facebook page.