As my final week at work progresses, and as I approach a completed twenty years of living, I have been compiling a long list of things I have learned in the last two decades. One thing in particular (a few things actually, but that will come later) stuck out to me.
My kids often come up to me and complain about another kid being mean or saying something rude to them. After trying to deal with it calmly and with both parties, there comes a time when it is the same kid saying the same mean things to the other kids. That is when you have to deal with that kid separately. Until then, I have this conversation with the complainer in question:
Five year-old: “Miss Ashley, so-and-so said this-and-this to me!”
Me: “Well, kiddo, just say ‘Hey, that is not nice to say. I am awesome, and I don’t want to play with mean people.” Then you just walk away and play with someone else. If they keep being mean, you just come get me.”
It sounds so simple. They walk away confidently. It never seemed like much to me; it just helps us avoid having the exact conversation with the same problematic kid multiple times a day. As a young child, I learned that if people were mean to me, I should not be friends with them. Yes, of course, we encourage making friends, but I will not force someone to be friends with someone they don’t want to be friends with. And it seems that the problematic kid does not learn by a stern, but calm talking-to from a counselor.
But that is not the point. The point is that I said this to a kid this week, and one of my coworkers complimented me on it. It encourages confidence in oneself, and teaches kids that they should not have to put up with mean people.
Honestly, before this was brought up to me, I did not see that. It dawned on me that I was teaching kids a good lesson with my advice. It was advice that I really need to listen to more often.
If people learn at a young age that they are worth good time and deserve to be treated well, then they will grow up to be more confident people. I wish that I had learned that when I was a kid.
For so long, I just accepted that I needed to fit myself to what everyone wanted me to be. If I didn’t let that person say their mean things to me, I would grow up soft. I do not think this is true. There are people in life that you will not like, that will say some pretty terrible things to you, but sometimes you need to hear those things. The way to combat them is learn early on, that you are awesome and deserve good friends.
Now, I am not saying that this gives you permission to be an asshole, because it does not. Please, do not be an asshole. But be confident in yourself and be a good person. I just firmly believe that a person should learn early on that they do not deserve to be treated like crap. And I am sorry for my slight language, I try hard to keep it PG on the blog, but this is an emotional topic for me.
I just do not know why it took so long for me to realize the lesson I was teaching my kids. I find myself doing that often: reassuring them that they are great people, constantly making sure they know how beautiful they are. I do this my friends as well. I do not want the compliments in return, though I am grateful for them, I just want everyone to know how worth it they are. I am still learning that for myself, but everyone should know that they deserve the best and nothing but.
I always compliment strangers, usually on their appearance because that is all I know about them. One thing that is important, though, is to compliment someone on their personality, their attitude, their outlook. People are more than what they look like, and I would like to believe I remind my friends what wonderful people they are. Even just telling someone you believe in them can make a difference.
Do not sweat the small stuff. Someone insulting you is just them showing insecurity. Do not be mean back, but make sure they know that it is not cool to be mean. That sounds so elementary, but it is an important lesson.
As my favorite princess taught me:
Much love, Ash ❤