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How Play Can Help Raise Powerful Girls

by Melissa & Doug

Playing Up Girl Power!

We want to encourage girls to have big dreams and pursue them and to believe that anything is possible! How can we raise a generation of powerful girls (and boys) who embrace equality? Start with play! Play has the power to instil confidence in kids. Below are some ideas from Melissa and Doug on how to do just that!

Roll Out More Role Play

Give girls options and ideas for broadening their role playing scenarios. Check in with girls to see if they might want to play pilot, doctor, chef, construction worker or other occupations that sometimes wrongly tend to be perceived as being more male orientated by society. Whilst there’s nothing wrong with playing princess, help expand your child’s notion of the possibilities by suggesting, for example, that the princess bravely storms the castle, slays the dragon, or saves the day in some other way.

Let Girls Get Dirty

Girls need the freedom to dig in the mud, get grass stains on their knees, and twigs in their hair as they explore the great outdoors. Worried about messing up cute clothing? Set aside certain outfits as “play clothes” and encourage girls to get outside and get messy!

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Encourage Risk Taking

We tend to protect and caution girls more than boys. Girls need to be given the same freedom as boys to climb high, jump far, and get physical (and, frankly, boys today could benefit from more of that freedom, too). Learning to fall and get back up again is a huge lesson in resilience and grit. Let kids take reasonable risks. Minor bumps, bruises, and scratches will heal and are the badges of honour of a childhood well-played!

girl at climbing activity in high wire forest park; Shutterstock ID 1016423110; Purchase Order: -

Support Her to Solve Issues on Her Own

When caregivers and parents try to resolve issues for children, they don’t develop the coping skills needed to handle situations on their own. Notice a conflict arising during playtime with friends? Try stepping back to let the kids work it out themselves. Figuring out how to get along with others, negotiating terms of play, and coming up with compromises are all skills that will serve girls (and boys!) well in the future. Using puppets can help give girls a way to play out strategies for resolving conflict and for articulating their needs.

Monitor the Media Messaging

Certain images and stereotypes in the media around us don’t always feature the most positive depictions of women as smart, powerful and competent. Try pointing out problematic portrayals and talk about them together. Ask for their thoughts so you can gauge where their thinking is and offer new paradigms for them to consider. (“I wonder why there are no women scientists on that show. Don’t you think women like to do experiments, too?”) Help give kids (both boys and girls) the tools and vocabulary for analyzing media messages critically.

outdoor portrait of young caucasian child girl climbing rocks on beach; Shutterstock ID 596898914; Purchase Order: -

Don’t Forget the Boys

Empowering girls is great, but let’s not forget that boys could benefit from positive messages about women in the world! Here are a few tips for raising boys who recognise girls as their equals and deserving of respect!

  • Let them know it’s not “un-masculine” to cry
  • Encourage friendships with girls
  • Try not to use phrases such as “like a man” and “like a girl”
  • Teach body positivity
  • Include stories about strong and brave women in your bedtime reading

Nest is a stockist of Melissa & Doug toys. With everything that Melissa & Doug create, they hope to encourage:

  • Free Play
  • Creativity
  • Imagination
  • Learning
  • Discovery