“Mom, this kid told me I’m weird and a loser!”
As a parent, these are the words I hoped never to hear from my kids. My daughter was having a tough few days. My husband and I knew something wasn’t right. She was snapping back at us, provoking her siblings — overall just not being very nice.
She’s quirky and an old soul, different from kids her age (she’s only 9). She would rather help her teacher than go to recess. Family time is everything to her. She hasn’t found a bestie yet and is very cautious about letting her guard down when it comes to meeting new friends.
So when we encouraged her to try to play with more kids at school, it backfired.
“Back off, we don’t want you playing with us!”
“Why can’t I play with you?” my daughter asked.
“It’s because you’re weird and a loser!”
Cue my mama heart breaking into a million piece.
My first reaction: Who is this kid? Let me at her… no one treats my daughter this way!
But then, I took a few deep breaths, held back my tears and used this as a teaching moment.
First and foremost, we needed to work on my daughter’s self-belief and self-perception. We are hearing too often now the number of children suffering from depression and low self-esteem, so we knew we had to make sure it was our number one priority to let our daughter know she is loved, beautiful and strong.
You are not alone.
Whether your kid is an extrovert or an introvert, we need to let them know they are not alone. My daughter bottles everything up inside. She is not the first one to share her emotions. But as much as she doesn’t want to talk about it, she was in a dark and lonely place and needed to know she had a strong support system that loved and cared for her.
You are amazing.
I can just imagine my daughter walking alone during recess not playing with other kids. Does she know she is an incredible girl? Her peers don’t see it today, but so many others do. Let your child know that they are unique and awesome. Just because they are different from other kids, it doesn’t make them “weird” or a “loser.”
You are in control. Be confident.
Words hurt, words sting — but they are only words. This idea is tough for kids to understand (adults too!). But they need to know they can’t let words control them. Is she going to allow this “mean kid” define who she is? How about all the great qualities she has that others see? I didn’t want one person to cast a shadow over all her wonderful traits.
Being in control also means being confident, one of the most important traits I want to instill in my children. I want them to be proud of who they are and confident in their decisions. I needed her to know the words and actions of others should not shake her belief in herself.
When self-doubt starts creeping in and when you feel like nothing is going right, take time to write down all the great things in your life. We had our daughter tell us ten things she is grateful for and ten amazing qualities about herself. We needed to keep reinforcing the positives and acknowledging her self-worth and belief.
Develop a plan.
When we finally helped our daughter get into the right mindset, we next encouraged her to develop a plan of how to handle the situation. What is the conversation she wanted to have?
Oftentimes, our first instinct when someone hurts us is to hurt them right back or just avoid the person. However, after much discussion, our daughter realized that she needed to stick up for herself.
Together, we decided the best way to deal with this situation was not too lash out, but to question the “mean kid” about their actions.
Ask her why… Why do you think I’m weird and a loser? Why do you think it’s okay to call me those names? Does it make you feel better putting me down? Perhaps these questions will make the mean girl think twice before she insults someone else. More importantly, my daughter will stand up for herself and not allow someone to push her around.
So, we have set our daughter on a mission to talk with the mean kid. We have no idea how things will turn out, but we do know that we took this opportunity to teach our kids to be confident and strong.