One day, a boy riding on Leanne’s van to Childhaven scowled at her and snapped, “Those braids are ugly!” With an unfazed glare, she replied, “If ugly means beautiful, then you’re right!”
Holding back a chuckle, her teacher felt a rush of pride listening to the 3-year-old stand up for herself. Leanne used to be so sullen and withdrawn, she’d often slink off to a corner of her classroom at Childhaven—showing no interest in playing with her classmates.
Her teachers would ask her how she was feeling, and she’d stare back blankly. She didn’t know what to say. No one had ever paid much attention to her before. Her birth mom had neglected her, and she hadn’t fared much better in foster care.
In time, as Leanne watched her friends play, her teachers would narrate their feelings.
“Can you see that Bobby has a smile on his face?” they’d ask. “He must be happy!”
If Leanne fell and skinned her knee, they’d say, “I feel sad when I skin my knee. It’s OK to ask your teacher to help you.”
Like a wilting flower that springs back when watered, Leanne soaked up all those words, all that warmth. As her self-confidence grew, Leanne moved in with a loving foster family that later adopted her.
Leanne’s new family still keeps in touch, raving about how well she’s doing in school, on the soccer field, in Girl Scouts—always building on the self-confidence that took root and blossomed at Childhaven.