When children are transitioning from upper elementary to middle school and high school, it is a great time for them to expand their horizons, meet new people, and gain a sense of independence while forming their own identity. However, adolescent years, coupled with the social and academic pressures of school, can be a gateway to situations that put a focus on negative experiences over positive ones. Let’s be honest, middle schools and high schools are not lacking in the drama department! It is difficult for younger people to look at the world around them and embrace the learning opportunities that these years offer. They only see life from inside their own fish bowl, and sometimes the water is very murky from that perspective.
The idea of looking beyond yourself is a very grand concept for children and young adults. Everything during these years seems life changing. Brief misunderstandings between classes can escalate and leave young people feeling a sense of loneliness. The fear of not being asked to a school dance can quickly translate into a desperate need for social acceptance. Self-comparisons and magnifying what we dislike about ourselves, or our experiences, is a habit that most of us are familiar. Unfortunately, the wave of the Internet and social media allows for this focus to be exponentially more self-consuming. The issue is teaching children how to focus on the positive influences around them and use those individuals to elevate rather than use the negative ones to deflate. The more positive energy we put out to the world around us, the more we get back. We need to teach children about the power of their attitude and that their approach to life is directly linked to those they attract. That is a lesson that will carry them through life!
- Magnify the positives without reason. Instead of only mentioning the great things about your child as a way of undoing a negative feeling, practice turning the focus on such attributes for no other reason than sheer acknowledgement.
- Be a model for a positive focus. Children model the behavior of those they admire. Most insecurities are collected from watching those close to us struggle with the same insecurities. Approach your life how you hope your child will approach their life—with confidence and a positive attitude.
- Start with the highlights. Make a habit of chatting about your day with your child. When describing your experiences during the day, always come out of the gate with the positive. By highlighting your own positive experiences, you force your child to reflect on their day in the same tone.