Family / Kids / Parenting

Nice is different than good

(And now you’ll have that stuck in your head all day, too.)

Over the last few weeks, my daughter n has received a few Wizard of Oz toys from the arches that dare not speak their name. And so it came to be that, in the car last week, she held up one figure of the Wicked Witch of the West and one figure of Glinda the Good Witch, and said to me, “one is mean, and one is nice.”

witches

Now, she has never actually seen The Wizard of Oz (nor has she seen Wicked, obviously), so she had never actually encountered these characters in their original setting. However, without even looking in the mirror, I knew which she had deemed “mean,” and which was “nice.”

I fretted and fussed for a moment internally, and gave myself a little pep talk as I asked her why she thought one was nice and one was mean. At this point, I fully, 150%, expected the answer to be that one was wearing black and one pink.

So imagine my surprise when that wasn’t her answer at all. Instead, she said, “because one is smiling, and smiling means you’re nice.”

(Now, in W3’s defense, she does have a little bit of a smirk going on there, but apparently that is not recognizable as a smile by my three-year-old.)

I took a moment to be pleased – that she’d caught me off-guard, and that I was wrong in it having anything to do with colors.

But now it’s opened a whole new avenue of worry. Because though, yes, smiling can indicate a nice person, it doesn’t always. People use smiles for myriad reasons, many of them in fact distinctly not nice. But how do you explain that to a three-year-old? If you’re me in the car that evening, you don’t.

But that doesn’t mean she doesn’t need to know. Because at some point, she’ll be interacting with those people – duplicitous people, mean people – and hopefully her social skills will be up to the challenge, but not every kid’s are, and how do you prepare your kid for that?

I know it’s not just a talk; not just a chat you have with them before shoving them out the door to school. It’s the self-confidence you give them, the time you spend with them, and not to mention more than a little bit of luck on part of the child’s personality. But it definitely sent me into worrying about this far earlier than I’d anticipated.

How do you help your kids deal with mean girls and falsehoods? Did you try and prepare them at all?

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One Comment

  1. This isn’t necessarily a “Mean Girls” thing though, but it’s also a key component of Stranger Danger, which she will encounter soon enough.

    (And take extra care of strangers, even flowers have their dangers…)

    My first thought is that it’s easier to teach a child to trust people based on their outfits (police officers, if that’s safe for them to do so, staff at the place she’s inevitably become separated from you…)

    But that will also come when she’s ready for it.

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