It’s been shown that most kids experience a drop in self-esteem during the pre-teen and early teen years. This is especially prevalent in girls. I’m sure many of us can remember being active and outgoing in grade school, then hitting the skids in middle school. I know I did.
In a matter of 2 years I went from an outgoing 6th grader who was kicking butt in gym class dodge ball, outrunning most of the boys in my school, and pulling down straight As -- to a poster child of 8th grade self-doubt. Suddenly my butt was too big, I was too tall, I hated my hair, I wasn’t smart enough, my feet were big, and I couldn’t (or wouldn’t) run if my life depended on it. Basically I wasn’t quite sure who I was or where I fit in. Just like millions of other young teens.
Kids today struggle with the same issues we did. They want to fit in, yet they want to be individuals. They love and need their parents, yet they don’t want to be seen in the mall with them. They want structure, yet they want freedom. It’s an age of contradictions, and it’s nothing new. We went through the same thing.
What IS new are the outside influences. Madonna rolling around on the floor singing “Like a Virgin” 20 years ago ain’t got nothing on some of the stuff kids are exposed to these days. Shoot…have you SEEN Kanye West’s “Flashlight” video? And it’s not just media images that are more graphic, kids are dealing with real life issues of hardcore violence, drugs, and sex right in school.
So what’s a Mama to do (aside from rolling our babies up in giant bubbles and locking them in their rooms until they’re 21)?
We set boundries, teach them common sense and personal respect, and give them the information they need to make good decisions. It may not seem like much, but for a kid who's feeling insecure, confused, or just plain lost, those small lessons floating around in their heads may be just what they need to get through.
But what else? What else can we do to keep our kids grounded in this crazy world?