The new year is upon us.
And every single newsletter you subscribe to is promising a new you.
But…I like the current you.
(Also hold on…you subscribe to other newsletters? Is that…newsletter cheating? I thought we were exclusive!!)
New Year’s is confusing because it’s so full of hope, yet the messaging is just bullying us into thinking we’ve continued to fail at everything up until now and finally, maybe this year, we won’t be as s%$^ if we can just get our act together and change everything about ourselves…
Gee thanks. I feel so inspired now. Don’t you?
Listen, you won’t ever hear me offer hyped-up instructions on how you can be better better better than you are. Why? Because I think you need to remember that you are already great great great.
You are a parent. Of a tween or teen. Or possibly a tween and a teen. Or multiple tweens and teens. And – Oh my goodness – maybe some younger kids too that are going to become tweens or teens. YIKES you have your hands full.
You are great. You are a great parent. I know because you found this little newsletter and you subscribed and you are reading. That’s a parent that wants the best for their kids and is willing to seek the information and support that will ensure they get the best.
That’s a good parent!
Have you heard that enough? I think you need to hear it more. You love and care about your kid, you are doing what you think is best, you are constantly learning, growing, adapting and coping with every little developmental “milestone” that gets tossed your way. And you are likely juggling multiple milestones at once in multiple kids and what worked for one kid you are discovering is woefully NOT working at all for the rest. It can be chaos and you are weathering the storm without a jacket or hat and gloves. And most days only one boot. But you put that boot on your foot and one foot in front of the other and you keep trudging through the snow. Look at you go.
(My metaphors are very Canadian today).
You are a doctor, teacher, therapist, friend, bootcamp instructor, chef, tutor, taxi driver, animal wrangler, motivational speaker, detective, and emergency first responder all wrapped up into one.
You are great.
I could end the newsletter there and be totally satisfied that I’m leaving you with a reminder of your superstardom.
But I also want to help your tween or teen feel amazing and know how much of a superstar they are too. And I need your help to do that. So read on for how we can get their new year off to the best start.
What is the number one thing that gets in the way of your kid’s ability to see how much of a superstar they are?
It’s not social media.
It’s not beauty ideals.
It’s not social pressures.
It’s not your parenting style
No. What damages their self-esteem the most is their friendships.
That’s right – despite the many negative messages kids receive on a daily basis from movies, music, TV, and influencers – all of whom are telling them they aren’t good enough as they are – the number one thing that can really tear down your kid is their peer to peer social relationships.
Why? Because kids rely on other kids to teach them about their social value. And because kids need to feel like they matter and they belong, especially amidst the barrage of unhelpful messaging and pressures.
When a kid is treated well, they learn that they are good enough just as they are. Good friendships are one of the strongest buffers against the possible damages of the outside world.
When a kid doesn’t have a safe or supportive social network, then the people they rely on most to develop their identity and self-worth (aka their social networks) end up sending just as many damaging messages as the outside world does. They are left with no alternative options to develop a trust and belief in themselves and their worth.
To make matters worse, kids believe what their friends say without question.
While kids are highly influenced by social media, beauty ideals, and outside pressures, we have at least begun to teach them to question things and not believe everything they read or see.
But when it comes to their friendships? So much of what happens in their social lives are hidden from us and so it’s so much harder to help them decipher what’s healthy and unhealthy.
This is why we are so excited to invite you to our upcoming workshop Anti-Bullying for Parents of Tweens and Teens on January 17th.
If you want to know exactly what is going on for your kid, and how you can make a difference for them without micromanaging their social lives, then you need to attend. Click to reserve your spot.
Kids with healthy peer relationships experience improved levels of overall health.
Yes, you read that correctly. It’s not just kids’ mental and emotional wellbeing that improves when their social connections improve.
Healthier friendships also lead to improved self-worth.
How can you help your kid build a solid foundation of self-worth if you don’t know how they are being treated when you aren’t around to witness every interaction they have with their peers?
How can you combat the teasing or subtle put downs, drama, or power struggles if your kid doesn’t recognize they are happening enough to reach out for help?
Three tools (New Year’s Resolutions?) to help your teen thrive:
1. Believe in yourself.
Kids mirror what they see. They will learn from you the habit of self-confidence or self-deprecation. Be the person you want them to be. Remember: I think you are great. Try allowing yourself to also believe in your greatness.
2. Point out healthy and unhealthy relationships, dynamics, or interactions.
Take note of what they are seeing in TV, in movies, books, social media, or from influencers and help them observe good and bad relationships “objectively”. If your kid can identify these dynamics outside of their personal social experiences, they will be more likely to recognize them during their own interactions with people.
3. Tell your kid they’re great and what exactly makes them great. They might not be hearing it anywhere else.
As parents it’s easy to get caught in the habit of constantly “teaching” our kids how to become better adults at the expense of delighting in them just as they are. We forget that the best way to create a healthy strong adult is to simply nourish and celebrate our kids.
Kids (like all of us, really) need specific examples of what makes them great, so pull out the compliment jar and let it overflow. Sure, they may roll their eyes but inside they are paying verrrrryyyyy close attention. For some tweens and teens, having you point out what specifically makes them so great is literally lifesaving because it gives kids who feel hopeless and worthless something tangible to remember when they feel lost. Specific reasons give kids a vocabulary of self-worth.
If kids can’t see for themselves why they are cherished – and their friends aren’t helping, and the outside world is bearing down on them – then you NEED to be the voice to counter balance it all.
These three strategies are an excellent start. But if you really want to make a difference in your kids wellbeing, you need to fully understand the health of their relationships. Their self-esteem is riding on it.