Archive for October, 2010

It’s a common negative stereotype and one that really annoyed me. Until I began to notice the whole girl vs boy social interactions and I’m not saying this is the case with all boys and all girls but in my experience and the observations of little girls close to me, girls certainly spent a hell of a lot of time excluding, bitching and playing mind games. The boys I know like to run, make noise and pretend fight. If they have a disagreement, it’s a bit of a biff or maybe some words and it’s all forgotten and they’re playing again as if nothing happened.

So, are girls really so nasty? Last night, we attended a large function with my extended family and some of their extended family, too. Here my sister and I observed a group of girls, maybe 5-7 years of age – all congregated together discussing something with keen concentration and I noticed fingers being pointed every now and again. One little girl looked wide eyed and teary. The conversation was along the lines of who was allowed to play with whom and why only one person got to make the rules and those rules were dumb anyway and you aren’t allowed to do that or I’m not going to be your friend anymore.

Another time, while waiting for the school classroom to open, I sat with my 2 boys and we quietly watched the children play. Some boys were running around in the grass, not making too much noise but just enjoying what they could do with their bodies. The girls were making mental notes on anyone breaking rules, anyone doing anything they deemed wrong, anyone with their shirts out and were organising who was going to tell on whom when the teacher finally arrived.

Crap. My whole school life flashed before my eyes.

I asked Patty Wipfler, director of Hand in Hand Parenting (where I am a certified parenting instructor- bah still need to put my bio up on the website!) if it was really true. Were girls so nasty in general and if this is the case why?

I wish I had taped her answer because it was so beautifully put. I will paraphrase but I really don’t think I will do it any justice.

We don’t often challenge girls to be the fastest runner, to climb the highest tree, to see who can catch the ugliest looking bug. Society expects girls to dress in pretty dresses and so that they don’t mess these dresses, they must sit still or play but only demurely and quietly. What happens very early on is that girls don’t feel powerful. They don’t feel powerful with their own bodies. As a consequence girls find the only power they have is through their relationships. This is why it’s more common to see the exclusion, manipulation type of activity around girls.

Boys are lucky. They are allowed to feel powerful with their bodies. They are allowed to feel  and know their bodies are powerful.

My niece came to visit and she struggled for a while trying to climb up our cubby house. She called me to help her and I stood close but without touching. “You can do this all by yourself, you know. I am here and if you fall I will catch you but I think you will be just fine.”

She climbed down onto the grass and said with sadness, “I’m a little girl and that’s why I can’t do it.”

“Nonsense! Little girls can do anything, and don’t you ever listen to anyone who tells you otherwise.”

“Girls can do anything?” she asked, her eyes wide with wonder.

“Yes. Girls can do anything.”

She started climbing again, faltered a little and with me offering gentle encouragement, she mastered the ladder and she was up!

“Girls can do anything, Tasmiya masee!” she said beaming with pride.

Boys are lucky. They are allowed to feel powerful with their bodies. They are allowed to feel and know their bodies are powerful.


I hope, that if I am blessed with a girl I am able to help her feel powerful in the same way society and social norms seems to automatically do for boys.

I (along with my friend, Meagan) am giving a talk on Building Resilience in Children tonight.

For those parents in Brisbane – I know it’s short notice and everything but here are the details:

Backbone and Bounce: Building Resilience in our children:

What can parents do to help their children bounce back under adversity, with a basic sense of confidence in themselves in spite of difficult circumstances?

And when a parent has a child who collapses when things are difficult, what can be done to build their resilience?

It is great time to refresh your thinking about resilience as your children face inevitable endings and separation, as well as the transition into Prep or another year at Kindergarten with new friends to make and many changes to adjust to. This talk will present some practical tools to address these issues and help parents to build resilience in their children.

Cost: $10 per family

Contact Meagan: 0422 937 646

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