Good Digital Parenting
Blog | Aug. 25, 2014

Messages to Send Children Back to School Feeling Confident, Capable, and Loved

Entrepreneur and advocate for the bullied
In a few short weeks, my youngest daughter, who was the target of bullying in early elementary school, enters middle school. From my own experience, I recall that the three years of middle school are where academic challenges, social pressures, and identity crises collide. It’s not a time in my life that I would care to revisit! Nevertheless, I have the pleasure of experiencing it again through the eyes of my daughter.

So what can I do to help ease the anxiety of middle school? Moreover, what can any parent do to help send children back to school feeling confident, capable, and loved?

I was pondering these questions on recent walk when it hit me – or maybe I should say: when I stepped on an answer – literally! Let me set the tone: There’s a beautiful park, in the heart of the city where I live, that’s filled with museums, theatres, hiking trails, and walking paths. I like to go there by myself to clear my head. My favorite leg of the walk is a bridge perched high above the highways. The breeze is perfect, and the hum of the cars below provides the perfect level of white noise for transitioning into a “mind like water” state.

On this particular day, as I stepped onto the bridge, I was greeted by something unexpected: 

GDP Blog you are music

You are the music that brings joy to the world. My first thought was, “How sweet!” (Even though the wording was a touch corny for me!) And so I continued on my walk. A short while later, I stumbled on another note:GDP Blog Life is Wonderful

Life is wonderful because of you. Nice, right? What a lovely thought. This message brought a smile to my face and added a jump to my step. As I continued crossing the bridge I found more inspiration:

GDP Blog Everywhere you goEverywhere you go, you are a gift. Now you’re talking! Who doesn’t want to hear this? At this point, the sidewalk chalk artist had not only my attention, but my gratitude. These little messages probably took just a few minutes to write, yet their impact was profound. I lifted my gaze and noticed more encouragement awaiting me up and down the bridge. At that point, the mind-clearing walk was over as I ran to my car to get my camera while my mind filled with possibilities, first and foremost: 

How early do I have to be at my daughter’s school on the first day of 6th grade to scribble some of these messages outside the front gate…without being detected? 

Among the 9 different quotes I photographed, my favorite is the one at the top of this article: "You are wonderful just the way you are." 

Isn’t this what we want our children to believe? In spite of all the tests – academic as well as social, cliques, mean girls, bullying behaviors, machismo, any other forces that weigh heavily on our children, we want them to stay true to themselves. However, in the midst of the school jungle, it’s sometimes hard for them to remember how great they are. So let’s come up with creative ways to remind them. Here are some ideas: 

  • Write a simple message (such as “Have a great day! I love you!”) on paper, and put it in your 1st graders’ lunchbox. Add artwork if you’re capable. I’m no artist, so I get lots of mileage out of smiley faces and hearts. 
  • Text your 6th grader: You are awesome! 
  • Send a private Facebook message to your high schooler: I’m so proud of you! Have a wonderful day! 
  • Place sticky notes with encouraging thoughts around the house where you know they will be seen: bathroom mirror, breakfast spot, microwave, refrigerator. 
  • Send your teen a direct message on Twitter: Miss you! Hope you’re having a great day! 
  • Take a picture of dinner and send your high schooler an Instagram direct message: See you at dinner! Yum! 
  • Snapchat your middle schooler a photo of their pet doing something funny. 

Whether you choose to chalk a message applicable to any student outside the school gates or send a private message to your child, let’s remind them that they matter and someone cares. These little supportive gestures can be exactly what our children need to help them greet the school day with optimism, pick themselves up when things don’t go their way, stand strong when confronted with cruelty, and remain focused on being their best selves.

Let’s use both old school communication methods and technology to remind our children on a regular basis that they belong, and we think they are awesome. Back to school is the perfect time to start!

I’d love to know what you decide to do. Share your ideas in the comments section.