Can Your Children be Themselves at School? (What other people think of me)
Jocks. Nerds. Preps. Punks. The faces change, but the titles never have. The same things that we all heard in school are the same terms that children today call themselves and other groups. As much as we try to shield our kids from those kind of negative connotations, they are surrounded by it for 8 or 10 hours five days a week in school.
What does it really mean? We often use the cop-out that “kids are mean” but sometimes, it isn’t just meanness, it is honesty. Of course, inflection is everything, and being “just a jock” might denote that that young man or woman is somehow unworthy of mental prowess.
What about when you are a grown-up? You may have been a member of a group in high school or – like me – aimed to be a friend to all. I wrote an article on this because who we are is oftentimes influenced by who we think we are or who we choose to associate with – that article is available in the Member’s Area (which is free to join if you haven’t yet – just click here).
My point is that it is our nature to want to belong, after all, we are social creatures, so our beliefs can influence how we feel about ourselves. The downside is that who we think we are starts to be influenced even more when we are in school. You and your children can be unintentionally conditioned to think that you are a certain way, which then can lead to a lifetime of adherence to that belief. Too fat. Too thin. Not smart. Too smart. All these can be internalized as we grow older and then we can fall into a negative Bubble Talk that only serves to hold us back.
The way around it, I’ve found, is to give yourself – and more importantly your kids – permission to think and be different. The feeling of wanting to belong stems from a fear that we are alone. We naturally choose friends that help us feel important and meaningful. Oftentimes in school, we get a false sense of security from a group that accepts us and we continue to look for that feedback for the rest of our lives. It helps to say “What other people think or say about me is none of my business.”
As you learn to think and be different, remember that you don’t need a group to enable you, you can find that confidence in yourself and instill that in your children. When you “get out of the box” and embrace that who you are is exactly who you are supposed to be, you open yourself up for the blessings that come from focusing on the journey of life, not an artificial destination mandated by the belief structure of a group or groups. Of an even greater importance, you enable your children to embrace the things that they see as fun and important, not some soundbite from a reality television star.