Why ‘I bet he likes you’ was the wrong thing to say to this 4-year-old

Mum shares powerful lesson after her daughter was punched by a boy at school


If a little boy pulls your pigtails then he probably just fancies you. Right? Well, after her 4-year-old daughter Joni needed stitches after being hit by a boy at school, a mum in America has shared an important lesson.


As Merritt Smith from Columbus, Ohio, checked Joni in to Nationwide Children’s Hospital for treatment, she says a man on the front desk offered the little girl an explanation for why the boy had hurt her.

Posting a photo of Joni’s cut and bruised face to Facebook, Merritt posted:

“‘I bet he likes you.’
“Dear man at the registration desk at Children’s hospital, l’m positive that you didn’t think that statement through. As soon as I heard it I knew that is where it begins. That statement is where the idea that hurting is flirting begins to set a tone for what is acceptable behaviour. My four year old knows ‘That’s not how we show we like someone. That was not a good choice.’

“In that moment, hurt and in a new place, worried about perhaps getting a shot or stitches you were a person we needed to help us and your words of comfort conveyed a message that someone who likes you might hurt you. No. I will not allow that message to be ok. I will not allow it to be louder than ‘That’s not how we show we like each other.’

At that desk you are in a position of influence, whether you realize it or not. You thought you were making the moment lighter. It is time to take responsibility for the messages we as a society give our children. Do Not tell my 4 year old who needs stitches from a boy at school hitting her ‘I bet he likes you.’ NO.”

The post has now been shared more than 34,000 times. “So sorry, sending hugs to all of you! The guy at the ER needs some training on how to deal and talk to children and I hope this is not what he teaches his children……not okay by any means. Hitting does not equal affection!!” one user commented.

“The older generation in my family used to say they were love taps! Def not! Love & bruises do not belong together…hope she heals up quick on outside & quicker on inside. What a stupid thing to say from that man…hope he reads this!” another added.

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Photo: Facebook / Merritt Smith

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