Not quiet, not my child

Last year, my ten year-old son complained to me that the girls in his class were chosen as student of the week more than the boys. I explained to him that girls in general were well-behaved, quiet, and so the teachers were more inclined to choose them. I joked with my son that maybe he should try to be more like the girls.
Sometime later, my eight year-old daughter complained about the same thing. She said a certain student in her class was constantly being favored by the teacher because she was very, very quiet. My daughter said, “she is the teacher’s pet. She never talks or chats with anyone. She sits quietly at her desk and reads. She doesn’t run around and play.” Now that got me thinking. My daughter is a social creature. She interacts and plays well with her classmates. She is not a quiet, “raise your hand and wait your turn”, kind of kid- well, she is not like that most of the time.
I told my daughter that I was happy with who she is. While it is important to be recognized and appreciated as the student of the week, it is more important for her to socialize and adapt to people with different personalities. And if she is not a quiet child by nature, well then she doesn’t need to be quiet. I reassured my daughter that one of these days, she will be recognized and acknowledged for who she is.
After all this was done, I was reading ‘Lean in’ by Cheryl Sandberg- COO of Facebook. In her book, she talks about how girls are given the message to be quiet and well-behaved in school and rewarded for these behaviors. It doesn’t however teach or train them to be leaders later in life. I was delighted to read this. After all, well-behaved women rarely make history.
So, my message to my daughter was to be who she is and not quiet down just so she could get a piece of paper that said she was student of the week.


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