If you have a Facebook account, you are probably dumbstruck by the amount of #MeToo posts coming across your news feed. It is my hope that these posts will spark discussion, and ultimately, provoke change.
As an early educator, and mother to a daughter and son, I have always believed that I can make a difference. In the context of #MeToo, that means respecting the physical person, understanding the power of my words, and teaching our little ones.
Your body is sacred. It belongs to you. For young children, that means they get to decide if they want to be touched, even a hug, and should be asked first. Kisses, too. This applies to family, friends, teachers, everyone. No one kisses me without asking first, and if I say no, my answer is respected. A small child deserves the same.
Language is powerful. The messages children hear shape who they believe they are and who they may later become. Spend one whole day noticing extrinsically focused, gender specific language. “You look so pretty!” “Such a strong boy!” Then notice when you hear this instead: “You are so kind!” “That was so clever!” “You did it!” Making a shift to intrinsically focused, non-gender specific language allows children to move through the world a little less encumbered by stereotypical restraints. It is hard, and it takes constantly checking myself, but the benefits to children are well worth the effort.
Next week we may not see #MeToo on our Facebook feeds, reminding us. I am going to remember each time I ask for a hug. I am going to remind myself when I hear a teacher saying, “What a happy smile!” And I am going to remind myself when I forget, because #MeToo should stop here.