If your family’s picture book collection does not contain a book by Kevin Henkes than your family is missing out! His books are completely delightful, especially this one, CHRYSANTHEMUM. This book is about a little girl with a long name who gets teased by other children until a trusted teacher steps in and teaches everyone a lesson.

Families often come to me asking how they can protect their children from “mean” kids who tease and bully others. I believe it begins with helping your child develop a strong sense of self. Here are three tips on how to raise a secure child:

1.) Praise children for WHO they are, not just their looks or accomplishments. A good hair day can come and go; a fancy outfit can fade; but a compassion heart, for example, remains no matter what you look like. 

When children understand their “beauty” comes from being kind and helpful, they have a better chance of standing strong against teasing.

2.) Practice being a family who always makes time to lean in and support each other during difficult times. Adversity happens, so rather than ignore or avoid it, huddle together and move through it! One of the most comforting feelings for children (for everyone, really) is knowing they have support. Spend extra time being close, snuggling, and talking. You can handle anything together. 

3.) Refer to any child who makes bad choices, like teasing or bullying, as someone who still needs lots and lots of PRACTICE getting along with others. Young children really are practicing. It is their job to misbehave and test limits in order to understand how the world works- to find out what is acceptable and unacceptable. When a child acts out, he or she is crying for help. Rather than set a bad example in your own family by name calling, try to help your child to understand that the misbehaving child just needs extra life lessons and lots of extra practice.

CHRYSANTHEMUM illustrates these three ideas in a beautiful, gentle way. I think it’s a book that is definitely worth having in your collection.