Cliques, Peer Pressure and Fitting In…

I've done the math...there are 6,570 days in my daughter's lives from the day they are born to the day they turn 18. Many of those days will be filled with so much joy....but others will be filled with heartache and frustration. It is a great feeling to be able to help my kids learn and grow, but being a mom can also be outright painful...especially when I realize I can't rescue my kids or save them from some of the experiences they must go through. As they prepare to go back to school in the coming days, I know that dealing with friendship issues and peer pressure can be one of the hardest issues for both parent and child.

cover_nobodylikesLGExperts provide great advice on how to help navigate these murky waters, as though there were truly some magic cure to make all of the confusion and hurt go away. They tell us to teach our kids to stand up for themselves, not keep things to themselves, have good role models, and set firm limits about what is ok... all great tips. There is a lot to be said for arming our kids with tools and strategies to help them cope with being left out, gossip and the outright cruelty that often come with growing up.

But there is one thing that no one really tells you. Yes...kids have to learn to work these things out for themselves. We can't really protect them from other people. But the secret is that we don't need to. Preventing these issues is not going to help our kids become stronger, happier adults one day....but TALKING about it to us will. Sharing their experiences and how they are coping with it is what will make a huge difference in how they feel about themselves..which is the only thing that matters.

The saying, "sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me..." is not true. Words can have a huge impact on how they feel about themselves and how they see others. We can teach our kids which words to let in..who is going to be allowed to have an impact on them and who isn't. THAT is the power we have over our kids every single one of those 6,570 days. We should actually be grateful for these and other challenges to come...they give us countless opportunities to strengthen our bond with them, to nurture their self esteem, and to let them know they are not alone. It is ultimately our support they need and in giving it to them consistently and unconditionally, we arm them not just for school, but for their entire life.

So as my daughters return to school I look forward to hearing about their days, good and bad, knowing that either way I am giving them the thing they really want and they really need...a loving parent who will be there for them and a place where they can always feel safe and loved.

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