Just this morning, my daugher's teacher pulled me aside in the drop off line. "Can we schedule a meeting?" she whispered. "There's been some drama."
Ahhh...the second week of school and here we go.
Well meaning educators, administrators and parents everywhere are searching for answers to "girl drama." This phrase, of course, is based on a negative stereotype of girls as highly emotional, illogical, and overly dramatic. Like many of us, I was labelled a "dramatic girl" and have spent a lifetime reframing my sensitivities as a gift and my powerful emotions as just that...powerful. At the same time, I have worked in schools for a decade running friendship groups for girls (and boys!) where intensity of big feelings lead to behaviors and classroom dynamics that interrupt learning and even make life at home stressful. Of all the interventions I've tried as an educator and parent, Kidpower is by far the most impactful.
Kidpower focuses on building "people safety skills" through role plays that are fun and based in reality. For girls, this means they get to build on their strengths as relational learners and develop real life skills to prevent violence and build confidence. Kidpower honors that "uh oh" feeling we get in our stomach as our safety alarms going off. It's a cue that our boundaries have been crossed and encourages our girls to respect, rather than negate their big feelings and follow a safety plan. This means that through Kidpower, girls as young as 3 years old begin practicing saying no to unwanted touch, learning to yell for safety and how to act confident even when they feel scared.
As our girls get to school, they deepen their Kidpower practice to include being safe with peers. How do they join a group if they feel excruciatingly shy? Walk with awareness, calm and confidence. How to they respond to gossip? By changing the subject or setting a boundary, "That's a mean thing to say and I don't like it." What do they do if they are being shunned by other girls? Tell a trusted adult and persist until they get help. Kidpower lets girls practice and practice and practice their relationship skills as if they were learning to swim.
When I'm with my daughter or a group of girls practicing their Kidpower, I am inspired beyond belief. If we give girls the skills they need to have safe and healthy relationships, we give them a guidebook for a life full of adventure and joy!
September is International Child Protection Month, a global movement led by Kidpower, dedicated to supporting adult leaders in keeping kids safe. Join us in Berkeley on Sept 25 for Telling: A Celebration of Girlhood, produced in collaboration with Child Protection Month.