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How Play Can Help Raise Powerful Girls (+ Printable Activity Pages!)

2018-03-05 by Melissa & Doug
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Playing Up Girl Power!

We want to encourage girls to have big dreams and pursue them and to believe 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 instill confidence in kids. Here are some ideas on how to do just that, followed by three free printables to spark some play in honor of International Women’s Day on March 8:

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 fire fighter, police officer, chef, construction worker, or other occupations that sometimes wrongly tend to be perceived as more male by society. While there’s nothing wrong with playing princess or mommy, help expand your child’s notion of the possibilities by suggesting, for example, that the princess storm the castle, slay the dragon, or save 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!

Raising Powerful Girls

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 honor of a childhood well-played!

How to raise powerful girls

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 you give girls a way to play out strategies for resolving conflict and for articulating their needs.

Monitor the Media Messaging

The images and stereotypes in the media around us don’t always feature the most positive depictions of women as smart, powerful, and competent. Point out problematic portrayals and talk about them together. Ask for their thoughts so you can gauge where there 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?”) Give kids (both boys and girls) tools and vocabulary for analyzing media messages critically.

raising powerful girls

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 recognize 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

International Women’s Day is March 8, 2018. Make an at-home activity out of it by sharing with kids these three printables that celebrate women taking on the world!

Super Woman to the Rescue Printable

Color the picture and write about a superwoman in your life! Let’s play.
Super Woman Printable
Get the Printable

The Doctor Is In Printable

Color the doctor and her patient! Then fill out the doctor visit form.
The Doctor Is In Printable
Get the Printable

Astro Activity Printable

Color the astronaut picture and complete the word search using the key!
Astro Activity Printable
Get the Printable


Melissa & Doug

Our team of play experts occasionally enjoys sharing news about our company, new product launches, and some of the #CountlessWaysToPlay with our toys, crafts, and games. At Melissa & Doug, we’re on a mission to inspire the innovators of tomorrow through kid-powered play!

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