Teach Your Child To Be Themselves!

Be Yourself! Following The Crowd Never Makes You Happy!

Be Yourself! Following The Crowd Never Makes You Happy!

Every child wonders to themselves Who Am I? Parents, teachers, friends, coaches, grandparents and everyone they come in contact with all have different expectations of them. No wonder children are confused as to who they should be at different times with different people. They switch masks from the good boy or girl for the teacher, sometimes the scared or hurt child on the playground when other kids pick on them, the tough kid among their peers putting on a brave face, the joker making their friends laugh, or the perfect player for their coach doing their best for the team. Not to mention all the roles we as parents expect them to play at home; brother, sister, responsible, hardworking, studious, well behaved child. No wonder kids have a tough time figuring out who they really are.

Being with their peers can be the most challenging place for them to be themselves. Peers sometimes expect certain behaviours from them in order to fit in with the group. If those behaviours feel wrong or uncomfortable it takes a strong person to say “No, I don’t need to behave like you to be accepted”. I have always taught my kids to be their own best friend. If a friend of theirs is not treating them with respect then they are not a true friend.

Grades 3-4 can be challenging social years in school, especially for girls. When my daughter Anya was in grade 4 a couple of the popular girls in her class started playing a mean game. It was the “Friend today, Ditch you tomorrow” game with some of the other girls in the class. The “popular” girls would talk about who they were going to be friends with and who they were going to ditch at recess, lunch or walking home that day. The game would rotate among the group of girls changing each day as to who could play and who couldn’t. For the girls who really wanted to fit in it was a very hurtful game.

One day when Anya went out to play at recess they would tell her, “we are ditching you today so you can’t play with us”. The next day they would play with her like nothing had happened. My daughter being the strong-willed child she is did not tolerate the treatment for long. As she was walking home from school one day with her best friend of many years her friend told her, “I am sorry Anya I am ditching you as a friend to be with the more popular girls”. Anya was so hurt and fed up with the whole game she said to her friend, “You know what, fine, I’m not going to hang out with you anymore!” then she walked away. We talked about it when she got home and I was so proud of her for standing her ground. She had another friend she could hang out with and they respected each other. She would not tolerate any more cruel games. A couple of weeks later her x-best friend came back to her and wanted to be her friend again because the popular girls had ditched her. Anya stood her ground and told the girl she had hurt her too many times and Anya was not willing to let it happen again. After that Anya was always polite to her but would no longer consider her a good friend.

Anya and her friend who was also tired of the ditching game started their own group where everyone was accepted for who they were as long as they were respectful with the others. If girls joined them for lunch or recess and we’re disrespectful Anya and her friend would walk away. They were still nice to everyone they just didn’t tolerate disrespectful behavior. By her grade 6 year Anya and her friend’s group had grown into a cluster of 6 to 8 girls who would hang out every lunch and recess and were always respectful to each other. They would play card games or on the playground including anyone who wanted to join and have fun. They didn’t care what anybody else thought of them they were just happy to be themselves.

Teach your child it is always better to play alone than to hang around other children who do not respect them or expect them to do things they feel uncomfortable doing. There are lots of nice kids out there just like them who would love someone to play with. If our children expect respect from their friends they will get it. They will also have the courage to stand up to a friend and say “No” when they don’t feel comfortable doing something their friend wants them to do.   ©

 

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Disclaimer

The information on this site is based on the personal experience of the author. There are no guarantees of a perfect method to raise a child, it is all trial and error. Please feel free to try some of the suggestions on this site and let me know how you make out. If you would like to use any words or pictures from this blog please contact me for written permission. © 2013

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