“‘Does your daughter play with many kids?’
It’s a question that took me by surprise during my parent-teacher conference. It turns out, my daughter sometimes plays by herself during recess. To hear that shocked me a bit, knowing that my daughter is not shy.
But it’s the conversation that followed, that keeps playing back in my head.
When I asked my 6-year-old if she has friends in school, she answered, ‘Yep! Everyone is my friend.’ She then named several kids, all who are sweet friends of hers.
But as we continued to talk, more of what my daughter’s teacher said made sense…and it made my heart hurt.
My daughter sometimes plays by herself because other kids are paired off. Sometimes it’s a certain girl who won’t let others play with her. Sometimes my daughter just feels left out, seeing kids playing together and not realizing that it’s OK to go up and ask to play with them.
You see, my daughter views everyone as her friend, even when someone may not like her. I’ve seen it firsthand. My daughter has excitedly greeted a girl she knows, only to be ignored on multiple occasions. Yep, I’ve overheard that same girl mumble that she ‘isn’t friends’ with my daughter.
Yet my daughter is oblivious. She sees the kindness and beauty inside each person, often not aware that not everyone is going to like you in life.
And that’s OK. I sure know that I’m not everyone’s cup of tea.
But it’s the mean girl mentality that surprises me, especially because it’s starting at such a young age.
So what can be done?
It all starts at home. We, as parents, need to lead by example. We need to teach our children inclusion and the importance of being nice to our peers. I remember being the new kid in school or feeling left out as a child—it’s something you never forget.
My daughter and I have had many heart-to-hearts in recent weeks, talking about friendships and making sure others don’t feel alone. I know life only gets tougher as our children get older, and I know that there will be plenty of mean girls along the way. But, I’m doing my best as a parent to make sure my daughter doesn’t become one.
Two words—’Be Kind.’ My 6-year-old wears it proudly. It’s two words we can all learn from.”
This story was written by Stacey Skrysak, an award winning television journalist based in Illinois. You can follow her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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