It’s back to school. “I wanna see you be brave…”
When I stumbled on a wonderful website last week, I thought of how many different experiences there are of ‘Back To School.’ If you aren’t one of the Moms and Dads who have stood with camera in hand, for the first day of school… you should still read more, but it’s the older children that I hope to reach today.
Musician Sara Bareilles performs “Brave” in the video clip that follows, and the song’s message is one for all of us. We have all had to be brave at one time or another in life. Parents sometimes forget that surviving the cliques at school and bearing the wrath of the mean kid can build a real sense of inner strength. We swoop in like ‘Mama Bears’ to protect our cubs. But being brave is how you get from Surviving to Thriving, and parents have to remember and have confidence in our children’s ability to grow in this way. It’s miserable while a person is suffering through unkind words or mean actions, but my grandmother had thousands of quips that all held true about that: “Sticks and stones can break my bones but words will never hurt me.” …if I refuse to let them, I think is what she didn’t come right out and say. No one ever wrote on her Facebook page, but I still don’t think she’d change her tune even if they did.
The wonderful website I mentioned is called AnxietyInTeens.com. The fact that there is even a website by that name highlights the immense problem. It’s hard work to build an inner sense of strength and self-confidence, and no one can do it for us. Anxiety is often the result when it seems impossible to succeed in the hard work of growing confident. Bareilles reminds us that something else is needed.
You can be amazing
You can turn a phrase into a weapon or a drug
You can be the outcast
Or be the backlash of somebody’s lack of love
Or you can start speaking up
Share the back to school message with your children. It’s hard work to be brave in the face of school struggles, but speaking up matters. And believing probably matters even more. Parents can’t do this for our kids; they must do it for themselves. I believe in the children in my practice just as much as I do in the ones who call me ‘mom.’ I love my job as a mirror for all the ways I see ‘brave’ and ‘amazing’ in our children, and it’s in them that I’ve invested my career as a physician… with every confidence in the world.
Gayle Schrier Smith, MD