“Niceness can be a cover for conflict-avoidance, for going along to get along, and pretending to be just fine when we are unhappy, sad, or just plain angry,” observes Holly Elissa Bruno in the book she co-authored with Janet Gonzalez-Mena, Luis Hernandez, and Debra Sullivan, Learning from the Bumps in the Road.  “This phenomenon is what my colleague, Luis-Vincente Reyes, calls ‘the hegemony of niceness’: the command to be nice is so strong that anyone perceived of as not nice is in danger of ostracism…

“For us in ECE, Luis-Vincente Reyes’ words mean that the pressure to be nice is so dominant that if anyone speaks up, speaks out without prettifying her words, especially if she confronts someone, is cruising for a bruising.  ‘Make nice’ means ‘don’t rock the boat.’  Sure, some aspects of making nice are worthy, like being kind, accepting, forgiving, and upbeat.  Those other aspects, like inauthenticity and sugarcoating?  Not so much…

“By demanding niceness over directness, we end up with early childhood settings where conflicts are dealt with indirectly, usually through gossip or backbiting.  Gossip allows us to release our anger and surround ourselves with supporters, while never facing the person who offended us directly.  What are we modeling for our children?

“….What if we modeled for our children the ability to name, address, and work through our differences?  The desire to affirm and nurture often trumps the deeper need for the tough love of confronting misdeeds and injustice.  Niceness frees us from facing the tough things: confrontation is a prickly thing.  We all know that smiling and being nurturing, selfless, and supportive help us fit in.  We also know that confronting and showing anger are tickets to ostracism.  Who would choose the pain?” (From Exchange)

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