“8 Ways to Encourage Girls to use Use Their Voices” by Allison Riley, from Girls on the Run, describes how important it is for adults to change how they speak to girls. I especially liked #1. Ask her, #2. Teach her that her voice matters, and #8. Encourage her to think critically when she sees conflicting messages.
These are simple ways adults can help girls feel strong, valued, and empowered. Girls need to know that their voices are important, and unfortunately, they receive the opposite message every day. Consider this list from an article by Grace Weaver (also at Girls on the Run:)
Girls like pink.
Girls wear frilly headbands and bows.
Girls assume the role of a damsel in distress, not a superhero.
Girls are not messy.
Girls should be quiet.
Girls play inside with dollhouses, not outside with skateboards.
Girls like to look pretty.
Girls aren’t as tough as boys.
Girls like to read and do crafts.
Girls don’t need wilderness or survival skills.
Girls should be careful that their clothes don’t distract boys.
Girls are vulnerable targets.
When girls have the same opportunities as boys to explore, get messy, and experiment, they grow stronger and more confident. They become more self-reliant and daring. They are far more likely to think for themselves instead of accepting someone else’s opinion. These are the skills they need to succeed in life.