WARREN HAYDEN: Drumming home the girl power message

Girl power... the Spice Girls Picture:: Fiona Hanson/PA Wire
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It was heartbreaking to read a report last week that revealed girls as young as six see themselves as less talented than boys. I shook my head in sadness as I read the details.

The study of 400 children initially found that both five-year-old boys and girls thought their own gender was ‘brilliant’.

But then, only a year later, the gender differences began to emerge.

The children taking part in the study were read a story about someone who was ‘really, really smart’.

The children then had to guess from four pictures who the leading character was from a choice of four pictures, two of women and two of men.

At the age of five, boys picked men and girls picked women 75 per cent of the time.

But when they reached six the boys still picked the men but the girls were more likely to pick the men too.

The conclusion was that these opinions formed in their young minds was because of the media, teachers, parents and other children.

As a result, it is thought that girls are absorbing some of society’s stereotypes and are later choosing activities and careers based on these stereotypes.

As you’ll know if you’re a regular reader of this column, I’m the dad to two daughters. Caitlin is seven and Alyssa five. I’m fully aware that my actions and opinions every day will be consumed and absorbed by them both and I consider this to be a huge responsibility as I, their father, will shape their thoughts and actions as they grow from children into teenagers and then into adulthood.

I’ve already corrected my daughter Alyssa who once stated that ‘girls can’t play football as that’s for boys’.

I’m not sure what made her believe that, but I sharply corrected her and explained that girls can do whatever boys can do and can even do it better.

I often solicit my daughter’s opinions on subjects, even at their young age.

This can be from why she has chosen pink as her favourite colour to what she thinks society can do to help homeless people in Portsmouth.

I’m also not afraid to disagree with them which is often my secret way of encouraging them to defend their opinion.

I also want to encourage my daughters to try new things and experiences.

This can be from eating a new food they’d not tried before to going on the huge slide in the swimming pool on their own.

Hopefully this will give them confidence later in life when new experiences present themselves.

I hope the next time research is done on young children the girls see themselves as just as talented as the boys .

And I hope my parenting raises two daughters who feel empowered.

IT’S ALL GONE QUIET UPSTAIRS

Having children is noisy. They’ll run upstairs like a herd of elephants and they’ll talk at the highest possible volume like they’re competing with the noise of the school playground. But to be fair, noise is usually a good thing.

As a parent, the noise means you are fully aware of where they are and what they are up to. It’s when things go quiet I begin to worry.

This happened recently when my girls went upstairs to their bedrooms to play with their toys. Not usually a silent activity, but that’s what I got.

It all went a bit quiet for a bit too long. Rather than enjoying the peace I marched upstairs to investigate.

Both girls were tucked up in mine and their mother’s double bed watching kids’ programmes on Netflix.

So, they now know how to work the TV in my bedroom and also how to navigate through the menus to load the Netflix app.

I won’t let them have a TV in their bedroom yet and it does keep them quiet for a short period of time. So I closed the door and went back to the tranquility.

• Catch Warren on Spirit FM’s Home Time show, weekdays 3pm-7pm on 96.6FM, online or on the app.

Twitter: @warren hayden