Unfortunately, there are way too many kids and adults walking around with emotional scars from being bullied. No one is really immune, and there’s a chance that someone you know who appears confident on the outside has experienced this inner pain.

Growing up, famed Fixer Upper TV host Joanna Gaines was on the receiving end of such bad treatment. As a young child, she was taunted to the point that it cut deep into her self-confidence. In an interview with Darling Magazine, she shared that she was teased for being Asian:

“If you haven’t heard my story, my mom is full Korean and my dad is Caucasian. Kids in kindergarten would make fun of me for being Asian and when you’re that age you don’t know really how to process that; the way you take that is, “Who I am isn’t good enough.”

As a teenager, she was a new sophomore student at her high school and felt social anxiety the moment she walked in. Though her parents encouraged her to be herself, she felt too uncomfortable and insecure to approach anyone.

“In the lunchroom everyone was a blur and I was thinking, ‘How do people do this? How do you find that one person to sit with?’ So I literally walked in the lunchroom and walked out and went into the bathroom. My fear and my insecurities just took over and I felt like I’d way rather sit in the stall than get rejected.”

Though eventually her family moved again and she went to a smaller school, that particular experience always stuck with her. She’s used it to help guide her parenting decisions as well how she interacts with clients.

The Gaines have four children and one on the way, and Joanna has made a point of teaching them what it means to be kind. Because she was a kid who dealt with loneliness and teasing, she wants to make sure her own children know how to spot someone in the same position:

“I always tell my kids to look for that kid on the playground who’s not playing with anybody, to go reach out, ask them their name, to look for the kid in the lunchroom who isn’t sitting by anybody, be their friend.”

Joanna also applies these values to her client relationships, seeking to help those who seem less confident, shy, or sad. Fortunately, she’s been able to grow from her experience and turn it into a lesson for her own family. It’s important to teach kids at a young age about basic empathy and consideration for others, and that’s exactly what this mom is doing!

In a time when we’re seeing bullying and anti-bullying campaigns at the adolescent and adult level, it’s reassuring to see that parents are making huge efforts to teach their children what’s wrong and what’s right. As painful as Joanna’s own childhood experiences were, she’s showing her kids how to be more mindful and sensitive to others.

Were you aware of Joanna Gaines’s childhood experience with bullying? Can you relate? Did you struggle with self-confidence growing up?