“I will do my very best to treat every child equally, and give every child the same level of respect and attention, no matter how shy or uninterested they are (unless they’re particularly bratty or misbehaving, in those scenarios giving children less attention is better). I had never really realized this about myself until my recent experience, but I am now proud of the fact I do this and will continue to try to include children equally and respectfully whenever appropriate. My recent experience was with four older adults, we were (fairly casually) teaching a brother and sister about wildlife. The brother was outgoing, confident, and answered questions, while the sister was much shyer and struggled to answer questions. I was absolutely flabbergasted when the other adults paid virtually no attention to the girl but paid more than enough attention to the boy. It was fairly obvious, at least to me, the girl was interested, but because her personality was so different from her brother’s, she struggled to participate.
To try to balance things out, I did my best to pay a little more attention to the girl than to the boy. Certainly, I did better than ignoring her completely. I like to think she was grateful I made an effort to include her and talk to her. Although with shy people like her, I find it’s often difficult to tell when they have positive/grateful reactions.
I’m pretty sure the adults I was with didn’t mean to be that rude towards her, but it certainly came across that way to me. The occasion certainly riled me and made me rethink a lot of comments I’ve read online recently about women not being taken seriously as children. Mainly, about how they would be watching boys get all the attention and praise while they were left in the background. I myself was lucky enough not to have that experience, but seeing it happen in real life, to this girl, was crushing. So, yes, there are times when girls do not get as much positive attention as boys. It may not happen all the time, as it very much depends on personalities, but I think it’s something that people working with children should be very conscious of, to make sure they don’t cause situations like that themselves. I just hope she can try to build up some more confidence and have her voice heard. Children deserve attention, unless, again, they’re misbehaving.”