My daughter is 9 years-old and like most 9 year-olds, often acts and speaks impulsively without realizing how she’s sounding or the effect that she has on other people. That’s normal. She’s 9. I’m not worried about it. She’s a sensitive girl with a sweet heart, who is trying very hard to slow down and think about what she’s saying before she spits it out. I can see her trying, I watch her self-correcting, and it warms my heart.
But now she has left the comfort of the elementary school that our family has been at for the past 7 years, and all of the well-loved teachers and rooms that we know so well. She’s on to a bigger school in our district that all of the elementaries feed into, and that sea of new faces can be a bit overwhelming. We’ve talked a lot this summer about meeting new friends and including people who might look like they don’t know anybody. We’ve talked about how to stand up for yourself and be brave. We’ve also talked about what type of person we want to be.
In light of the VMA’s this past weekend and the sad display that was put on, I thought I would share with you how we address this in our house.
The answer… it’s always being addressed.
It’s not something that is brought up as a family discussion just because of something we saw on TV. It’s not something that we gloss over because of another celebrity outburst.
It’s always being addressed. It’s just the way we live.
When my daughter was much younger, I asked her what she wanted people to think of her. When her family or friends thought of her specifically, what did she want them to think? Did she want them to hear her name and think, “Oh that girl’s selfish and never shares. That girl says rude things if she doesn’t like your clothes”? Or did she want them to think, “That girl is always helpful and kind. That girl makes me laugh when I’m feeling sad.”? We talked about it for awhile and we wrote down what she wanted peoples’ reactions to her to be. We talked about the person she wanted to be and how it’s not enough to just see those words on a piece of paper, but you had to live them too.
As she got a little older, we started talking more about other people and what traits she admired about other people. Who are the females in her life that she looks up to? Last night we went for a walk and were talking about it again and, bless her little heart, she was getting SO excited listing all the people who she admires and why! And because the child is EXACTLY like me and loves to see things written down, we came home and made up a little sign for her room.
She came up with the heading and directed me every step of the way, and then she took over and her little hand started flying over the paper! We talked a bit about her title she picked and how she should only want to be herself, and how she’s so lucky to be surrounded by so many strong, intelligent friends and family. We talked about starting this new school and making sure her behaviors and words reflect what she wrote down here so that she can be the person she wants to be.
I’m willing to bet most of us have quite a number of positive role models that we interact with on a daily basis, as long as we’re looking in the right place. Our real world is right in front of us, not on TV.
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