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We think every child should have optimum opportunities and the confidence to achieve their dreams.
With this goal in mind, the UN has been promoting girls empowerment annually on 11th October since 2012 on International day of the girl child.
This special day highlights the challenges girls can face and addresses these issues with the aim of achieving equality in children.
We’ve certainly come a long way in recent years in closing the gender inequality gap in the UK but it’s interesting to consider the often inherent differences in the ways we treat girls and boys.
Here are some interesting observations and ways in which we can make small changes to have a positive effect on children:
Break the cycle
To break down some potential gender-based barriers we, as parents, need to think about the subliminal messages we could be sending them that could be stifling for girls.
These are learned behaviours and have been passed on to us too, so it’s time to break the cycle.
Reshma Saujani said in her Ted Talk on how to Teach Girls Bravery, Not Perfection, that we unwittingly continue to raise boys to be brave and girls to be perfect.
Caroline Paul also gave an interesting TED Talk on how to raise brave girls and encourage adventure. She noticed how important the language we use is.
Girls are often warned to ‘be careful’ and to ‘watch out’ whereas boys are not. She saw how we caution daughters more than sons.
This differentiation begins at an early age, without us even noticing and we continue to pass these stereotypes on through the generations.
Be comfortable with imperfection
Reshma Saujani noticed that girls gravitate towards activities and subjects that they know they’re good at rather than alternatives they might fail at.
She said that whilst girls were found to be more likely to give up, boys are more likely to re-double their efforts when they struggle to achieve.
Girls seem to be less comfortable with failure and being judged negatively than boys.
We need to encourage girls at a young age to give things a go and to be prepared to be imperfect. They need to view challenges as an opportunity to overcome, improve and achieve.
Caroline Paul realised when, as a firefighter, she was often asked if she was scared whereas her male colleagues weren’t. She noticed that girls weren’t expected to be brave.
We more often warn girls about potential dangers. Fear becomes more embedded in girls and at the forefront of decision making.
Instead a level of fear should be present to keep them safe and to make calculated decisions, but not be the primary guiding influence.
As Caroline Paul said, bravery is learned and anything learned needs practice. We should encourage our girl children as well as the boys to have adventures and take risks.
Right from our early childhood, where there is very little physical difference between girls and boys, girls are taught caution. We need to take the same approach to girls as we do with boys.
Reshma Saujani noticed that boys are used to taking risks and getting rewarded for it. She believes we need to encourage girls in the same way. It seems that we caution daughters more than we do our sons.
In physically challenging situations, Caroline Paul, suggested that boys are more often offered guidance whereas girls are offered assistance.
Let our girls climb the monkey bars and talk them through it rather than hold their middle or tell them not to do it, it’ll be too difficult for them.
We need to be pro-bravery. It’s time to embrace ‘Risky Play’ in our children. Girls, in particular should be encouraged to take rather than cautioned from taking age-related calculated risks.
This will help girls to develop a greater sense of confidence and self-belief as well as lessen the burden of failure.
Barracudas is committed to offering an amazing experience to every child who attends our camps. We’re happy that we can be a part of their development during the school holidays.