It can be hard to navigate when a child is mean to your child. Here’s an important lesson to remember.
This post is sponsored by Responsibility.org and I am proud to be a #TalkEarly blogging ambassador for 2019. All thoughts are my own.
Over the weekend, I was with my friend Ann, who has seven children. Her two high school students were going to a dance and I marveled at how different my life will look in just a few short years when Elias enters high school. Her kids were so mature and had big conversations about big topics like God, relationships and navigating social situations. I saw the importance of trusting your kids and their friends takes on a whole new level when you have teens.
It also reminded me that empowering your children to make good choices when it comes to friendship is something that takes years to cultivate. It is not something that is just going to happen on its own. The work that Matthew and I are doing now to pour into our kids will make a difference when they are teens.
Is how I parent making a difference?
We are already having ongoing conversations with our children about being a good friend, making good choices about who they hang out with, and the impact those decisions can have. Sometimes though, it is difficult to know if the way you are parenting is making a difference. Adeline recently had an experience at school that affirmed me that we are doing okay.
On a warm fall day, while on the playground, Adeline had a little girl say to her, “I’m beautifuler than you.” Adeline was taken aback, but chose not to engage with the little girl. She walked away with another friend, saying to the other friend “you can’t be beautiful when you’re acting ugly.”
When she told me that story, I wanted to cheer — and turn her comment into a billboard!
Teaching our kids about being assertive
Adeline’s response reminded me the insight that Phyllis L. Fagell, a licensed clinical professional counselor, certified professional school counselor and journalist, said at the Responsibility.org summit that Matthew attended last year, “If you give people the power to validate you, you also give them the power to invalidate you.” (Her book Middle School Matters recently released and is a great resource for parents.) Check out this video of her speaking at the summit, along with insights from a few parents who attended.
Phyllis advised that parents teach their children to be assertive when another child says they can’t join in a game or is unkind. In Adeline’s case, I affirmed her insight and what she said to her friend, but also told her that she could have been assertive back to the little girl, saying just what she did in a firm manner. It is important to stick up for yourself.
Being assertive is a life-long skill and will serve our children well at every age. As a parent we can and should applaud our children when they demonstrate strength and kindness. Just like we do as adults, our kids are prone to remember negative feedback, so we must affirm, affirm, affirm.
This week is Red Ribbon Week, which is a week dedicated to encouraging parents to having honest conversations with their children about underage drinking. Be assertive is a key lesson for kids in navigating when they encounter alcohol at a young age. Check out this page on the Responsibility.org web site to find helpful resources on how to talk to kids about alcohol.