I was completely taken back and not prepared for the experience my 2 ½ year old daughter went through last week. We were shopping at a store when two little twin boys were giving her these “looks” and were almost silently teasing her, if that makes any sense. You know, those looks you used to get as a kid when other kids were quietly making fun of you? Well, yes, my daughter went through that last week. I was completely taken back, unprepared of what to do and for sure triggered by my own experiences I went through as a teenager.
I didn’t even notice what they were doing, but my daughter sure did. All of a sudden I heard her smack her foot to the ground; and when I turned around my sassy little girl’s hands were at her hips. I asked her what was wrong and she said, “those boys are teasing me – that’s not nice!” I then looked back at them and watched them quietly laugh and point at her a few more times. I was so frustrated and immediately went into “momma bear” mode. I asked her what she wanted to do and she said, “I tell them they are not nice and then I walk away.” I was so happy that she told me this, what a mature thing for a toddler to even think to say. I was very surprised that she knew what they were doing to her and that she had the courage to speak up. Imagine, at two years old they can pick up the “vibes” from other kids. Shocking, isn’t it?
Courage is a strong word and with powerful meaning to it. This experience has taught me that it is never too young to begin to teach your children what courage and self-esteem is all about. They need that to thrive and protect themselves from situations like these. There may be some others out there who think I’m reading into this too much, but I am sorry, I completely disagree. Teaching a child this at the earliest age you can is so important for their mental growth, their learning and processing, as well as their overall wellbeing.
Part of me is sad that I witnessed her first experience getting “teased,” if you will, but the other part of me is happy I was with her, to protect her now when I can, and offer words of encouragement as she develops a sense of who she is.
As we walked to the car she told me, “Mommy, you protect me right?” My response, “Yes sweetheart, you and I both protect each other.”