Today we celebrate International Women’s Day and the theme for this year is #BeBoldForChange. Perhaps that is the reason why I see a lot of encouraging posts on Facebook and Instagram. Thanks to those encouragement posts I discovered this TED talk by Caroline Paul.
Her talk was short but was packed with such an inspiring message. As my blog post title suggests, her talk is about raising brave girls.
I wouldn’t divulge the details of her talk, but merely share key takeaways from it. I wouldn’t want you to miss how she shared her experiences as a firefighter and a paraglider pilot.
Bravery wasn’t a trait expected from women. To be blunt we were expected rather we are expected to be damsels in distress, we are seen as fragile beings. But this really shouldn’t be the case. In her talk, she shared how this mentality was often ingrained in our systems unknowingly from the time we were toddlers. Words such as be careful, watch out, stop, and no are often exclaimed when little girls try to do something risky. Boys do hear those too, but girls hear it more. To this, I was hit with a sudden tinge of guilt. See I often exclaim the words be careful to bunny whenever she tries to climb a chair or basically do something I deem is risky. How often? To the point wherein she know exclaims the words be careful when she is playing.
Taking a step back, I realize that there really was no need for me to say be careful or no to her. She was just being a toddler, as my husband would say. She is discovering the world around and her, perhaps telling her to be careful is too much.
Further in her talk Caroline also shared four things that can help raise brave girls.
The first is risky play which she deems is really important for kids. Now, this is the first time I’ve heard of it so I consulted Google. Turns out it is a type of play that kids should be exposed to. It is defined as
A thrilling and exciting activity that involves a risk of physical injury, and play that provides opportunities for challenge, testing limits, exploring boundaries and learning about injury risk.
(Sandseter 2007; Little & Wyver, 2008)
The reason why it is important is because it helps children learn how to assess situations, know how risky it is, and how they can deal with it.
Second, Caroline shared that we should cease cautioning girls. Doing so will make her feel that it is okay to not push herself and push boundaries.
Third, we ourselves should practice bravery. For me personally, as a mom, I should become an example for bunny. I don’t need to jump off a plane to give an example of bravery. What I can do instead is take risks and speak up for my beliefs. I think this would be easy for me because I do have a knack for taking risks, I just assess situations as much as I can. I also like trying extreme activities. Maybe one of these days I can teach her the different types of rappelling, I was an instructor once.
Lastly, we should guide our little girls to access their bravery when they need it. There will be times when a task would be too much for them or a play too risky for them. We should help them with that task or help guide them in their play. We have to remember that one day, we will not be there when they face a tall situation. Guiding them now can help them face their challenges in the future braver.
Caroline’s message was loud and clear: you have the power to raise a brave girl. Encouragement is key, as well as being an example for her. Let her experience life with bumps and bruises because ultimately it helps her become a brave individual ready to face challenges along the way.