We Don’t say Those Words in Class!!

 

As I was getting ready to write my blog this week I was trying to think back to a time when I may have used these words, or have heard someone use these words with a child in a classroom.  I could not think of one time.  That is not to say that those words were never spoken, but to be honest I was maybe not really listening.  I have heard teachers respond in negative ways to children when they say things like “you can’t come to my birthday”, or “you are not my friend”.

Years ago, I was out shopping with my two daughters.  My oldest daughter had to be about five at the time and my youngest about two.  We were waiting in line at the grocery store when my oldest daughter asked me if the lady in front of us was pregnant.  I immediately felt embarrassed and I know that the lady in front of us heard her because she looked a little sad when my daughter said it.  What was my reaction?  I just said “no” and tried to divert her attention.  Now this is something that I am sure has happened more than one and with many different situations.  Honestly at the time I was a young parent who had very little experience with these situations, much less had experience with my own parents talking to me about differences with people. 

Looking back at this now, and knowing what I know now, I think I would have handled things differently.  I would have taken more time to explain to my daughter that she was not pregnant, but just had a bigger body size.  I would have explained that all people are different and that is okay.  Maybe we would have look at some pictures of different body sizes or looked-for people with different body shapes/sizes as we were shopping.  When I think back to how I handled this with my daughter she may have thought that being bigger or fat was a terrible thing.  She may also have felt that she did something wrong (let’s face it children say these things all the time), and she may have even felt shame. 

If this had happened in a class that I taught I would find some pictures with people who have different body shapes/sizes.  I would also try to find books to have on the bookshelf or to read to the children.  We could also compare our own bodies and how we are different. 

I feel that children get so many messages about body size and shape within the media.  I feel that this is having a massive impact on how children feel about themselves.  We can make a difference and children can feel better about themselves and others.  I think that it is more important for children to learn about being healthy and having healthy habits, then focusing on what size a person is.  As we start to have more conversations with children it will help children see differences in a new light.

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2 thoughts on “We Don’t say Those Words in Class!!

  1. Veryl Hines
    Reply to Cindy Group 1

    Hi, Cindy
    I agree that children get so many negative messages from the media especially about the value of size and shapes. Earlier in the course, we saw the hidden messages of certain dolls such Barbie and other characters from kids movie influences how children perceive what’s acceptable and not in society.(Pelo, 2008). According to (Derman-Sparks & Edwards, 2010), teachers must be aware of the type of toys, materials, posters, and pictures they post in the classroom and the messages they children learn from them. It is important that the classroom environment shows both similarities and differences among children and helps children avoid developing sterotype against any one group of people.
    In addition, I agree that as educators, we have the responsibility to help children feel good about their own uniqueness and respect other’s individualization. According to the videos this week, utilizing such books as “Fat, Fat Rosemary” in the classroom aid in helping children realize that “isms” such as ableism prevents them understand people with disabilities and other diversities around them. Therefore, as teachers, we must ensure we provide an environment that both nurture and support all children.

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  2. Hi Cindy,

    Great post! I know all about body shaming, as I often do it to myself and even though I do not have children, I have said to myself that when I do have children one day, to be mindful of what I say. It is such a shame what we have to contend with from the media. We often think there is an ideal way of looking and being and I often think, if we just accepted ourselves then we would not be so quick to judge others too. It is so important for children to know that regardless of how we all look, we are all people with feelings and should be respected and shown kindness. It is amazing, sad and ironic that we often talk to children about body shaming others, yet we do it to ourselves and to other people openly or secretly. I think change needs to begin with us!

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