From Princesses to Girl Warriors

How do you grow a strong, confident girl?



 As a PSP member asks the group:


"I've been thinking more about how I've been teaching my 2 girls (3 and 6) void of any violence-no guns, don't fight, etc. Since the thread about the 'attempted abductions' occurred a few months ago I started reading books about avoiding violence (The Gift of Fear and Beauty Bites Beast). The latter book talks about how our society teaches us (and I agree) that girls are sweet, patient and kind and that in many situations someone will come "save them" (usually a prince). (Even many of the movies adults watch also perpetuate this-the woman stands back as the hero and villian duke it out. This doesn't help them much when they are teens and their potential boyfriend wants more than just a kiss.)

Now I'm thinking that I need to teach my girls confidence and 'girl warrior-hood' throughout their lives-starting now instead of when they are teens. I'm at a bit at a loss how to do this in a way that doesn't promote violence but does uphold their sense of power. (From what I heard the new Jodi Foster movie is just a violence vengence movie; that's not what I'm going for).

I'm planning on attending the Workshop about Children's Safety and hoping that they address this at least in part-I know they are will cover how to talk to children about scary things like if strangers approach them and things like that. (PSP is co-sponsoring the event but I haven't been involved much with the planning).

Since there are many of you here who have older girls and may have had more experience grappling with these issues surrounding 'girlness', ANY IDEAS on how to help my daughters build confidence, feel powerful and know how to defend themselves when they need it?




"I think that martial arts are great for girls. Not only do they teach practical skills, such as how to respond in case you are being assaulted, but they also foster self discipline and self confidence. Also, most martial arts studios teach never to attack, but only to defend yourself in case you are attacked, which is different. Plus, many styles such as tae kwon do are competetive, so your girl can strive to achieve her full potential in competitions, etc. Not that we are expecting to be attacked, but let's face it... it happens, and many times by people we know. I don't think it's wrong to know how to defend yourself, and I think it's great for a girl to feel confident that she could defend herself as well."


"i love Shrek and Shrek 2 b/c they totally deconstruct the fairy tale princess stories and it not only says that you don't have to be size 2 and perfect to be a princess, but Fiona kicks butt!! Also, Brooklyn Martial Arts has self defense classes for boys and girls And we practice screaming a lot!!"


"My daughter is almost 11 and becoming a confident, strong tween (she's currently attending 6th grade at MS 51) due to mainly the inspiration and good self-esteem skills that she has been taught at CAE's karate classes during the past 3 years.  The changes I have been witnessing in her are simply amazing.  I would recommend these classes for any girl out there."


 "My older daughter liked the book of fairy tales called The Serpent Slayer And Other Stories of Strong Women by Katrin Tchana. I think we got it when she was four (though it is a bit gory in parts- eg. gouging out dragon eyeballs.) Now that she's ten she loves to watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer with me on DVD. (which brings up other interesting "teenage" topics to talk about like sex and peer pressure.) These are both quite violent--but usually in the name of standing up for one's self and others and doing what's right. Also popular are "twisted fairy tales" (Gail Carson Levine is one author that comes to mind) where the princess is the brave and adventurous character of the book. The Center for Anti-violence Education has self-defense classes for kids - my daughter attended a one day workshop at her school and thought it was interesting and useful.

Also, be a role model. My sibs and I lived most of the time with our grandmother who owned her own business, raised three grandchildren and did it tirelessly and with patience and love. As a girl growing up I never doubted that women were tough and could do anything they wanted in life."


"The Center for Anti-Violence Education on 5th Ave and 8th Street provides great programming for girls re: issues of self-defense, dealing with bullying and empowerment in general.  I strongly recommend checking out their workshops, etc.  I have a five year old girl and definitely plan on enrolling her when she's a little older."


 Photo credit Scott Swigart via here