By Sophie Winik, Regular ContributorSeptember 1, 2015
Sometimes words of encouragement are all we need to start our day with a smile. We want to wake up in the morning and feel great, ready to tackle the day. It’s amazing what a simple word of encouragement can do to one’s confidence. You might begin your morning feeling tired or frustrated or even upset, unable to know how to change your mood into a positive one. Then, when you step out into the world and are given a smile by a complete stranger, your spirits suddenly rise and you, too, are then smiling.
A simple act can make all the difference for someone; it can impact the rest of their day and how they treat others.
image via strexcorp-employee.tumblr.com
I remember when I was in high school, I experienced a moment where all it took were words of encouragement to make the attitude of a child go from sad to happy. I was tutoring children at a local elementary school, a school that was rather strict with its students. I was teaching a third-grade child, helping him with reading and answering questions. He was shy but very attentive and worked hard to achieve his goals. I would listen to him read out loud, in his very soft voice, and answer any questions he had about what certain words meant. As I watched him start writing down his answers to the corresponding questions, suddenly the principal approached us and greeted me (having known I tutored some of the students). She appeared very stern and proper and rather intimidating, especially for young students as this boy. After saying a short “Hello” the principal began noticing the boy’s writing and said to him, “Come on, you can write neater than that!” She was forceful with her words, scolding this already shy child. I turned to the boy, smiled, and said, “Really? You can write even neater? You’re handwriting is beautiful already!” He looked up at me, forlorn, as he proceeded to erase all that he had written. The principal, still towering over our table, waited for the child to begin rewriting his answers. Finally, she looked at the boy’s paper and said, “There! That wasn’t such a big deal, was it?” and she walked off, leaving the two of us alone again. At that moment the boy seemed to be sad, so I told him once again how beautiful his handwriting was and how great he was at reading.
That small confidence boost was all he needed to finally give me a smile.
Children are sensitive beings. They need encouragement, and sometimes they need someone to help them smile. The whole time I worked with this child he had never smiled, not once (until now), but he remained focused, quiet, and in a state that appeared to be vulnerable. His principal kept him in that state, not giving him the words of encouragement he would have wanted and deserved, but rather faulting him for his “mistakes.” This child needed some comfort. He needed someone to notice him for his greatness. All I did was give a few words of encouragement and smile, and that was enough. That was enough to help one child feel like a warrior again.
“Do your little bit of good where you are, it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” ~Desmond Tutu.
What helps you when you have a bad day? Does a smile ever cheer you up? Tell us below!
Sophie is a preschool teacher in Southern California. When she is not teaching the little ones she is writing stories about her experiences with bullying, with the hope that her words will help others stand up against bullying and be another voice to end the hate. Sophie is also an artist who loves to paint and draw and is studying to be an art therapist, specifically working with children. Check out her anti-bullying stories atkindrevolutioncampaign.wordpress.com.
Every girl is a work in progress. If you need more help, click here.