If I had one piece of advice that I wish I'd been able to
give myself as a kid growing up, it would be to not worry about what other
people think of you.
I can really see why people say life begins at forty,
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because it's become the time in my life when I've finally stopped worrying
about what people think of me. For everyone who told me I would never amount to
much, I wish I hadn't believed them for so long!
My teenage daughter came home from school yesterday and told
me about a story her teacher had told the class. She asked them to scrunch up a
piece of paper, to poke it, to prod it and then to stamp on it and to crush it
up as small as they could. They all did this with great delight.
The teacher then asked them to unfold their paper and to try
and get it back into its original form. Every piece of paper remained crumpled
and marked from the treatment.
These are the scars a bully leaves on a child, they were
told, ones that no matter how hard you try, never really heal. It was a poignant
lesson for the class, who all knew someone who had been bullied or had
experienced it first hand.
Today is Safer Internet Day and as well as trying to keep
our kids safe when they are online, cyber bullying, according to the NSPCC, has
become one of the biggest concerns to parents.
The 'Have Your Say' study found that almost a third of 7-11
year olds and almost a quarter of 11-19 year olds found that online bullying
stopped them from enjoying being on the internet.
So I gave my daughter this piece of advice, a quote I ironically
found online: "When people hurt you over and over, think of them like sand
paper. They may scratch and hurt you a bit, but in the end you end up polished
and they end up useless" – Chris Colfer.
As for growing up and getting to the ancient age of 40, I
told my daughter to remember that one day it wouldn't matter anymore what that
kid had once said at school.