What I am
How can you go wrong with Sesame Street together with Will.i.am? I love this song.
My kids and I were having a conversation the other day about school and friends. I was really happy to hear my eldest tell me that he liked a particular thing, and his friends didn’t but he felt that it was important to know what he liked and it didn’t matter if it wasn’t the same. I felt like doing a victory dance. A bit premature, granted, but with the lure of peer pressure looming more and more, every victory of knowing and sticking to one's own opinion is one to celebrate. I’m telling you – and as other parents of older kids will probably agree – as they’ve aged, it’s getting and harder for my kids to know their OWN mind. More often the case: what they know, what they think they want, what they hear is more likely to be what their friends think, say and want.
Go to your kids and ask them: Who are you? What do you want? Ask your kids to write down who they are, and what they like. And ask them: why? Why do you like this or believe that or care about it? Why? And as they tell you, listen to what they have to say because it is important. It's important not just for you to hear, but also to let them know that it is important to you to know, and that you will honor what they have to say by listening. There is no work or home task more important.
Their friends color a lot of what happens inside of their heads. The biggest influences on your kid’s sense of self are you and other family, their friends and peers, and their teachers. The best defense against negative peer pressure is a strong sense of self and a love of the person they see in the mirror. I’m not talking to the point of narcissism, but rather a healthy admiration for self that results in a healthy peace of mind and the ability to stand up for what they believe in. And, also important, the ability to say no to what they do not believe it. Study after study shows that negative peer pressure works most on those who do not have a strong sense of self and who suffer from low self-esteem.
You know what, friends? Another thing that is so important for our kids to know is whatever their personality might be, it’s okay to be that way. Who they are is wonderful, amazing, and worth knowing. Who they are does not have to change to meet the ‘norm’ or to suit someone else’s idea of ‘ideal’ might be. Who they are IS good enough. Their quirks, their piques, their skill set – it’s all good. And it’s all loveable. This is where peer pressure can really hit hard.
I will always be the best me I can be. And that’s good enough for me. This is easy for me to say. I have the years and experiences to have gained insight and confidence in myself. Kids, preteens and teenagers don’t have the luxury of those things yet. They are still searching for what ME is, and what persona is comfortable. They are so much more vulnerable to outside influences unless we can help them to see that the ME they see IS the good enough, too, and it’s a good thing to be.