I came across an interested TED Talk the other day, about how to raise brave girls. The solution is pretty obvious – encourage adventure.
There are a lot of good points, especially about how we tend to make it harder for girls to be adventurous. Think about how often you caution your daughter or hear other parents caution their girls about how they’re playing. Then consider these quotes from the TED Talk.
So how do we become brave? Well, here’s the good news. Bravery is learned, and like anything learned, it just needs to be practiced. So first, we have to take a deep breath and encourage our girls to skateboard, climb trees and clamber around on that playground fire pole.
Second, we have to stop cautioning our girls willy-nilly. So notice next time you say, “Watch out, you’re going to get hurt,” or, “Don’t do that, it’s dangerous.” And remember that often what you’re really telling her is that she shouldn’t be pushing herself, that she’s really not good enough, that she should be afraid.
Third, we women have to start practicing bravery, too. We cannot teach our girls until we teach ourselves. So here’s another thing: fear and exhilaration feel very similar — the shaky hands, the heightened heart rate, the nervous tension, and I’m betting that for many of you the last time you thought you were scared out of your wits, you may have been feeling mostly exhilaration, and now you’ve missed an opportunity. So practice.
The best way to get your daughters to be more adventurous is to take them on adventures. My kids all love climbing rocks, for example. So far they don’t go on very challenging climbs, but they do love the kind of rocks they can just scramble up. Joshua Tree has some favorite areas for them to climb around. They reach some pretty good heights, sometimes to where they have to be told how to get down.
Each of my kids has gone through a time where they were scared to climb up the rocks. That includes my son – he’s the cautious type by nature, but has learned to enjoy a bit of rock climbing.
My youngest daughter finally got more comfortable climbing around on our most recent trip. She was so proud when she finally climbed up what her siblings regarded as a pretty simple rock. To her, it was a scary, steep slope.
This isn’t to say appropriate caution isn’t warranted. We went hiking recently at Whitewater Preserve, and the kids wanted to go wading in the river. The river is neither wide nor deep as these things go, but my husband mad sure the kids all knew to consider how they played in it, because it doesn’t take deep water to sweep you off your feet. Once they each had a feel for it, they played as suited them. It’s a very rocky river, so getting knocked over could be quite painful or even result in a serious injury.
This was our first visit there, and the general consensus was that next time, they’ll wear clothes that are better for getting soaking wet in.
The other great thing about raising more adventurous kids is that they’ll willingly leave the electronics behind for an outdoor adventure. That’s good for everyone.
Brave kids turn into brave adults who can follow their dreams. That’s something most parents want for their sons and their daughters.