My little Geekette will be starting second grade this year. Ever since she started preschool, she has always been passive with her playmates. Her preschool teachers would mention it at the parent teacher meetings. They noted how she would let the other children take toys away, let them cut in front of her in line, take things from her on the playground, etc. As I have watched her grow, her daddy and I have come to the conclusion that this is just part of her personality. I wouldn’t say she is meek, but she definitely avoids confrontation when possible and sincerely tries to make other people happy, sometimes at the expense of herself.
As her parents, we have tried our best to make sure she knows it is OK to stand up for yourself and we use all the teachable moments we get. But you never really know what your child absorbs and takes away from conversations like that. I do know the important thing is to keep the conversations going and the lines of communication open. As she gets older, I worry more about bullying and peer pressure at school. Interestingly enough, a friend of mine bought a book for her daughter, who is the same age, that is an excellent conversation starter about standing up for yourself against bullies.
The book is by the authors of American Girl magazine. Let me say we don’t have any American Girl dolls and I didn’t even know they had a magazine, but after reading their book I plan to take a closer look at their publication. The book is called Stand Up for Yourself and Your Friends: Dealing with Bullies and Bossiness and Finding a Better Way and while that is a mouthful, it is chock full of great advice and scenarios to get the conversation flowing.
The book is somewhat chronological in nature and identifies important points by the headline ‘Big Important Point’. The authors start by defining bullying with examples and scenarios to help girls identify when it is happening to them. They emphasize that bullying is not just the words that are used but how they are used. The authors advise a three step approach in how to handle bullies: ignore it, speaking up, and then talking with an authority figure if your plan isn’t working. They include pages on how to stay positive, how to stand up for others, and what to do if an adult is bullying you. Throughout the book there are quizzes, which my daughter particularly enjoyed, and anecdotes to help the girls realize they are not alone. They cover other topics such as the difference in telling on someone versus tattling on someone, caring for friends, and even how friendships change throughout your life.
We read this book together and when an opportunity arose for a conversation we dove right in. It was an excellent and enjoyable read for both of us. It is written on a child’s level so my daughter really connected with what they were trying to communicate. I know we will refer to this book again and again as we continue our journey through the school years and navigate the changing social landscapes of childhood.