After some sadness, frustration and awareness for our 8 year old, we came to find out that she has been receiving demanding requests from a good friend at school. Overhearing the conversation made me realize just how much she was being manipulated and controlled. This happens for some children at a very young age and to "fit in" or be liked, many children fall into the trap of becoming a puppet for friends. We had a conversation with her about what a friend is and what a friend is not. We discussed what it feels like to be told how to play and what to play, what it feels like to be told what to like and what not to like and we enjoyed taking the time as a family (all 5 of us) to talk about how true friends make us feel and how others who are not true friends can make us feel. As we continued we created this together as a way to always remember that we have the ability to feel great and to make our own decisions. We also reminded one another that when something doesn't feel good in our belly, it is ok to say no or to walk away.
"I have my own brain, I have my own heart, I have my own voice and I make my own decisions."
This small reminder has already helped our youngest daughter who is 4, as she repeats it each night before bed. She is proud that she can claim some of her own power in being herself - even if others don't approve. An example of this was when we were at a birthday party. The father of the birthday boy was having fun with the group of kids and said, the rules for eating the cake are that, 1. you can't use a fork and 2. you can't use your hands (they need to be behind your back). Our youngest started to get upset. I walked over to her and said, you don't need to be sad, remember our chant we made up? She immediately smiled at me, wiped her tears, she picked up her fork and she very nicely ate her cake while almost all other children dove into their cake with their face. The kids were all having fun, and so was she, because she was the one making the best decision for her to be happiest. I told her that I was proud of her for making a decision that made her happy. A really interesting observation was that not only did she pick up her fork and eat, another child did the same after seeing how brave Kate was to follow her heart.
*At Moral Compass Kids we believe in creating a healthy sense of self for our children because they deserve to grow up with healthy thoughts, respectful behaviours and positive beliefs about themselves and others.