I was recounting this story to a friend this morning and was inspired to write it down and share it here …
A while ago, when my daughter was either in junior kindergarten or senior kindergarten, there was an uncomfortable interaction with an adult who has a role of authority in her world (I am being specifically vague here because I don’t want to name any names). The interaction was not a super big deal – but it upset my daughter enough that she came over to me crying when it happened. It took me a while to get to the bottom of what had happened and why she was upset – but she was eventually able to tell me what had happened. This adult called her a nickname that she does not like – it was a play on her name.
Like I said, it was not a super big deal. Part of me thought that I should just tell her to shake it off, that people are probably going to call her that her whole life and she should just learn to not let it bother her. But then I thought that I could instead choose to use this opportunity to teach her that she has a right to tell someone when she doesn’t like something and tell them (politely the first time) to not do it anymore. I wanted her to know that she even has the right to say this to an adult who has an authority role in her world, and will have this authority role for quite a number of years most likely.
It turns out that while I am not someone who likes confrontation very much, I can muster up the courage when it involves my children! I told my daughter that we were going to go over to this adult and explain that what they said to her made her upset. We were going to ask this adult to not say this to her anymore. So that is what we did.
And it was received quite well. The adult apologized and explained that they call all the kids different nicknames and they did not mean any harm. But they also said that they would not call her that again.
We did it! I was so proud of us.
I hope that I was able to give my daughter a life lesson that she has the right to politely and respectfully stand up for herself in all situations – even to someone who is in a role of authority. I hope that I taught her to give voice to her emotions. I hope that I was able to show her that her role is not to be quiet and good and accepting if she is made to feel uncomfortable by an adult. I hope that this was one little step in the direction of confidence in owning her power, so that if a situation occurs in the future that is more serious than being called a nickname she doesn’t like, she is able to also stand up for herself.
Imagine if we started teaching all of our World-Changing Kids this at age 5 or 6 – or even younger. Imagine if they didn’t wait until they were 38 to start to give voice to these thoughts. Imagine what they will be able to do in this world and how they will be able to make it a better place with this confidence and these skills. This is what I love to think about and what I want to spend my life working on!
P.S. The attached photo doesn’t have a huge amount to do with the story … except that it was drawn by my daughter and it has a bunch of powerful dinosaurs. It has a velociraptor riding on a pteranodon and a brachiosaurus with terrifying sharp teeth. I think it is pretty cool.