I've been teaching a little Taekwondo class once a week this month for kids at my company's Summer Day Care Camp. They are energetic, sweet kids who have been learning kicks and Korean, with a side of good character.
Today we worked on the Five Fingers of Self-Defense, a formula from Thousand Waves Martial Arts in Chicago that teaches kids to Think, Yell, Run, Fight, and Tell. We talked about verbal self-defense--ways that they can take care of themselves when a bully says mean things.
After class, a girl came up to me and quietly asked, "But what if they say that you're shy and too sensitive."
"Is that true?" I asked.
"Yes," she said.
"Do you want it to be true?"
"Well, you can always tell those people, 'I'm working on it.' "
She smiled in relief.
"Think you can do that?"
She was about to leave when I said, "I'm glad you talked to me about this. I was shy when I was your age too."
Oh, the grin on her face. Priceless.