HUMAN 2.0 | 2202 Thurston Dr. Ottawa ON, K1G 6E1

Raising A Brave Girl

Guest author: David Benay (teacher, physical literacy advocate, and Ottawa Gym Critic – @OttawaGymCritic)

I’m currently on this amazing learning curve of raising a brave girl. Two years ago, my wife gave me the best gift possible. I was given a new path in life and a new mission when I first laid eyes on my beautiful baby girl. This mission of mine is to raise a brave girl and I am using physical literacy to achieve this. I want her to have “the motivation, confidence, physical competence, knowledge and understanding to value and take responsibility for her engagement in physical activities for life.” [1] When she’s older, I want her to participate in a variety of physical activities and to be brave enough to try anything she wants.

Caroline Paul – a bestselling author who writes about gutsy girls – says we need to encourage adventure in girls during her Ted Talk. She thinks that society acts like girls are more fragile and more in need of help. If you disagree with her statement, I challenge you to sit at a park bench and listen to parents talk to their children while they play. You will notice (I certainly did) that parents will allow their boys to be riskier than girls. Girls will often be told to be careful and boys will be encouraged to be risky.

Subsequently, boys are developing their physical literacy while girls are being limited. Even Active for Life thinks we might be raising our girls to be afraid. Paul says that we need to teach bravery and allow our girls to practise it. We need to encourage girls to climb trees and try skateboarding. [2] Risky play plays a huge part in developing our children’s physical literacy. Allowing our children the freedom to choose risky play will get our girls to live adventures. Participaction’s report card on physical activity even suggests that allowing our children to participate in risky play will help with their overall health.

“You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

Now try to remember your childhood. Did you toboggan down hills and run up them? Could you use the monkey bars? Did you jump off a swing at its highest peak to get maximum hang time? These are the adventures I want my little girl to live. These are the adventures that will teach her to be brave and develop her physical literacy. When she will ride her bike with her friends, she will improve her cardiovascular ability. When she will climb all of those trees, she will be recruiting enough muscle fibres to overcome obstacles and become stronger. However, if I fall in the trap of constantly reminding her to be careful, she might not live those experiences.

Raising a brave boy would have been so much easier for me. I understand what it’s like to be a boy. In fact, the education world of Ontario often asks for my input when it comes to teaching boys. For me that’s easy. I just try to remember what it was like to be a young boy in school, and I make most of my decisions based on what I enjoyed and what I disliked. When I see my daughter play, I have this urge to tell her to be careful. However, I must bite my tongue because I need for her to live adventures in order to become a brave girl and improve her physical literacy. When I train at Human 2.0, I see adventurous women with amazing physical literacy. They can do stuff that I cannot and I am in awe. These women are great role models. I bet they were allowed to live adventures when they were young girls.

[1], Consensus Statement

[2], Caroline Paul : To Raise Brave Girls, Encourage Adventure