Strong Girl Voice

School yards. Always buzzing. Always unpredictable. Sometimes scary.

If she wanted to survive the cruelty of elementary school, my daughter would need to find her voice. A “strong girl voice.”

A few years ago, when my daughter was only 4 years old, we had the talk. Not thee talk we have with our teenagers, but a talk about using her voice to silence anyone who is being a bully. Sort of strange having to explain bullying to my preschooler, but I wanted her to be equipped for the real world. Real life.

Our conversation was brief:

“Lolli, not everyone you meet is going to be nice.”

“Why mama?”

“Because sometimes people make bad choices. But no matter what happens, no one has the right to hurt you.” I explained

“You have a strong girl voice inside of you. Don’t be scared to use it.”

Lolli stared up at me trying to make sense of my instruction. I honestly didn’t think she understood what I was saying much less remember.

Then, a few weeks ago, to my surprise, Lolli told me that she had to use her strong girl voice. Just to give you a context Lolli is now 7 years old and in the second grade.

It started out like any other drive home from school.

Photo Credit: pendlewood.com

“How was your day?” I asked

Silence.

“Lolli, are you okay?”

“Mom, I had to use my strong girl voice,” she confessed.

“Two girls came up to me at lunch recess and told me to get off the monkey bars. They were laughing at me because they said I wasn’t twirling right. But I didn’t move. I told them to STOP and they would have to wait their turn.”

“What happened next?” I asked

“They walked away.”

“Mama is so proud of you Lolli. You did the right thing. You used your strong girl voice.”

I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. On the one hand, I was over the moon about my daughter standing up for herself. But on the other, I felt crushed to learn that the “mean girl” thing started so young. I just squeezed my baby girl’s hand and let her know I love her.

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42 Comments

  1. That’s a remarkable little girl you have there.

    Reply
    • Thank you. I believe the confrontation was more difficult than she is letting on but somehow she found the courage to speak up.

      Reply
  2. I love this! I hope she carries this strength into her adult life! It will be worth more than gold! You are the one she came from! I attribute her strength to you! Good job mama!

    Reply
    • Thank you, Diane. Perhaps the reason I opened the dialogue with her at such a young age is because I was never taught to have a “voice” growing up. It was crushing. I don’t want my children to repeat my past.

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  3. That is awesome! I am going to have to remember this when I have this talk with my son. He is only 20 months old, but it will sneak up before I know it.

    Reply
    • It will sneak up on you, the talk about bullying. Looking back four seemed so young but there is a way to make it palatable for a preschooler. I think the main point is to teach them that they have a “voice” and they can use it!

      Reply
  4. Cynthia Matos-Medina

     /  October 10, 2012

    I have a daughter, and i too, try to teach her that she has a voice. The other day she is arguing with her brother and I hear her scream “AND YOU ARE SHORTER THAN ME!”.
    I ran to them and told her never to teese her older brother again and she said, “I was just using ‘my voice’ “. Really! lol
    in all seriousness, We don’t know if what we are saying to our kids is staying in their brains. However, to our surprise, in little instances like the one you encoutered we realized that they get it, slowly, but they get it.

    Reply
    • Well, I guess in all fairness your daughter was using her “voice.” I know what you mean about teasing your siblings, it happens on a daily basis at my house too. But you’re right, you never how much instruction our kids absorbing. You can only hope that it registers one day.

      Reply
  5. Isn’t it great that when the real world invades their innocence, they have the tools to deal with it? What a wonderful example of parenting you’ve just shown here. You attempted to teach your child a valuable lesson. Years later, you see that it worked. She learned. Beautiful. I tried to teach my kids that while no one is better than they are, and that they should never let anyone make them feel bad about themselves, that on the other side of the coin they were no better than anyone else either and should treat everyone with kindness, because everyone deserves it.

    Reply
    • You make a good point here. While no one should make your child feel bad about themselves, you also want them treat others with kindness. It is such a delicate balance.

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  6. I’m so glad you posted about this! Emma is three and right now she will walk up to anyone and thinks everyone is a friend. I’ve been worrying about explaining to her that some people aren’t nice but I didn’t know how. These seems like the perfect way to explain it!

    Reply
    • I would definitely open the dialogue now. The content doesn’t have to be too sophisticated since she is only three. But you could start small. The thing I’ve learned is to teach my kids they have a “voice” and not to be afraid of using it.

      Reply
  7. Being June

     /  October 10, 2012

    Nice job. I remember not having to truly use my “strong voice” until middle school. It’s so sad how early it starts these days, but the previous commenter is right; we can teach them the skills they need to stand up for themselves. My little girl is four….I’m just waiting for the right moment. Great post.

    Reply
    • It was middle school for me too. Only I was ill prepared. But we are clearly living in a different age. Everything seems so accelerated these days.

      Reply
  8. Beautiful. Much as I’m sorry your sweetie had to use that voice, I’m glad she knew she had it, and it was right for her to use it. I often have to remind her, but Flower Child knows she has “girl power.”

    Reply
    • Girl power, I like the sound of that! Whatever works so long as our kids know they have a right to use their voice. Flower child is lucky to have you as a reminder.

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      • mrs fringe

         /  October 11, 2012

        Agreed, it’s important for them to know and understand, from a young age. Thank you, and the same is definitely true for your little one. :)

  9. this is a great post- glad your lessons sunk into her head and she was able to pull it off!

    Reply
  10. today, one of my favorite bloggers at doodlemum.com posted a sad, sweet post about her daughter getting picked on at school. i love your strong girl voice. seemed to be the theme today. sigh.

    Reply
    • I’ll have a peek at doodlemum’s post. Sadly, bullying does seem to be a reoccurring theme these days. But it’s better to address this issue head on instead of burying our heads in the sand. Always nice to hear from you Jenn.

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  11. I’m so happy for your daughter! My daughter is so shy and quiet that I’m always worried she won’t be handle herself well in this situation. My husband and I talk to her about it so we hope it makes some impact should something ever arise!

    Reply
    • Our daughter’s sound a lot alike. They are both shy and never want to leave home :) . I applaud you for preparing her for the harsh realities of this world. Hopefully, she won’t need to use her strong girl voice very often, if it at all.

      Reply
  12. Love this! Strong girls unite! I wholeheartedly agree with you that we have to start instilling these traits in our girls (and boys) at a young age. If we set this foundation for them, they will forever build upon it. Great job mommy! Put this one in your Mother of the Year Application folder. :-)

    Reply
    • Strong girls unite indeed! And you’re right about instilling character traits during early childhood. It is a necessity to survive nowadays. As for “Mother of Year Application,” I haven’t even started one yet. But now that you mention it . . . :)

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  13. Good for her for standing up for herself! You are doing a great thing for her by teaching her to be brave. There’s a bully at my daughter’s 4th grade class (3rd year in a row now UGH!!). I’m always telling her it’s important for the other girls to stand up for each other because it will take her power away. So sad that we have to have these conversations when they are so young. Great post! Keep up the good work. : )

    Reply
    • Sorry to hear there is a bully in your daughter’s class. I’m sure it makes you feel uneasy. But like you said, building a close network of friends should help ward off future confrontations. Good advice. So wonderful to hear from you!

      Reply
  14. when i was a kid I was bullied and just kept quiet. the last thing i want is for my little girl to be the same way. I want her to assert herself when necessary and to stand up to bullies. perhaps i should try your “strong girl voice” technique when it’s time to have that talk with the little girl. thanks for sharing such an awesome post!

    Reply
    • Terrible to hear that you suffered in silence as a little girl. That will not be the course for your daughter. You will be speaking to her from experience and will definitely be able to empower her. The “strong girl voice” happened to work for us. I believe each child/adult has a voice buried inside of them and it’s about finding the courage to use it.

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  15. I love this post. I will definitely teach my youngest daughter as well.

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  16. You tell em Lolli

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  17. Good for her for standing up for herself & to you for giving her the tools to do so.

    Reply
    • Thank you. I’ll definitely be reminding her to use her voice from time to time. Guess it’s really about keeping the communication lines open.

      Reply
  18. go Mama O

     /  October 12, 2012

    Love the term strong girl voice! I will have to teach my daughter that one!

    Reply
    • It was the only thing I could come up with when she was 4 years old. Apparently, it resonated with her and I hope it sticks with your daughter too!

      Reply
  19. Good for her! Those little brats.. She’s lucky to have you as a Mom. :) &Yeah, sadly, it does start very young! My son is only 3 and they’re teaching him about bullying in preschool. He doesn’t fully understand yet. When he does though, I’m going to have a similiar talk with him. Thank you for this heartwarming story. :D

    Reply
    • It is true that we need to start teaching our kids about bullying at a much younger age. They need to know that people are not for hurting.

      Reply
      • DaydreamsinWonderland

         /  October 13, 2012

        I agree. We’ll never be able to stop it 100% but at least we can give our children the tools to deal with it in a better way.

  20. I love this so much. I love that you called it Strong Girl voice, giving it more of a super-hero feel than just “don’t let bullies be mean to you.” I hope that your daughter stays empowered to speak up to mean girls (and guys) for the rest of her life!

    I also think Strong Girl Voice would be an excellent book or cd title, don’t you? Maybe you should write a childrens book!

    Reply
    • Funny that you mention that as a book title because I’ve already started a mock-up. I’ve been gathering material since my daughter was 4 years old. “Strong Girl/Boy Voice” was the only way I could relate that inner super hero to a little child. Your admonishment to move forward with this project is SUPER encouraging! This just might be the push I need. Thank you!

      Reply

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