Last week I was riding with one of my students. I pick her up first because she is in Pre-K and her school ends a little earlier than my other schools. She knows my route by memory. So when we got in the van and I was headed to my second school she got excited because we were headed to pick up my other students. For the purposes of this story their races matters. The pre-k student is black and the students I was headed to pick up is white. I asked her why she was excited for me to pick up the other students one of which is a girl. She said because I get to play in her hair. I asked her why she was excited to play in her hair and she said that she liked the other girl’s hair because it was white and pretty. I told her your hair is pretty. She said no it isn’t my hair is black. I said but that doesn’t mean it isn’t pretty. I told her I like her hair. I told her I understood why she taught the other girl’s hair was pretty but hers was just as pretty as hers. So when the student got on the van I explained to her what the conversation was that we had. I explained to her that I told the little girl that she probably has something that she loved about her friend’s hair that she couldn’t do and then I asked her to tell her something. The other little girl told the other little girl that she wished that she could have cornrows just like hers but because her hair is so soft and straight that she couldn’t do it. She also told her that she thought her hair was pretty. I loved the way the conversation ended. I did share the exchange with my boss who shared it with her mom. I also gave the girl some affirmations that she could say to herself in the mirror because I want her to embrace herself.
This exchange got me to thinking of ways to teach young children to embrace who they are and love themselves. I want kids to know that there is nothing wrong with who they are. It is normal to want to have things that other people have but you have to accept who you are. I struggled with this for a long time but now I love me. I don’t know something just clicked a few years ago. But I wish it were sooner. So here are some tips to help your child and any other children to embrace themselves:
- Affirmations: Teach children affirmations that they can say to themselves in the mirror or whenever they are feeling down.
- Let them start choosing their own clothes: For example let them have a day maybe once a week where they where whatever outfit they choose. No matter how silly you think it is let them wear it.
- Compliment them: Complimenting your children comes naturally but compliment them a little more if they seem to be having difficulty with embracing themselves.
- Conversation: Ask your child ever so often to pick some things that they like about themselves. Also share things that you like about yourself. You can even ask them what they don’t like and get them to explain why they don’t like it and then tell them what you like about that particular thing or why that particular thing is good about them.
I think these tips will really help your child to embrace themselves even more. They will learn that its okay for them to be who they are and love themselves. Having self confidence and loving yourself is key to protecting your child from bullying. How do you help your child to love themselves?