BYOU Magazine founder & publisher, Debra Gano, recently appeared on television talk shows during a visit to Michigan (where kids are fortunate enough to start school after Labor Day!) to discuss back-to-school anxiety and ways to build up confidence before — or during– the school year. Most of the time we think about checking everything off the school supply list and buying the new fall clothing lines, but there’s much more to the new school year than that…it’s about going to school and being your most confident self. Watch her interview on the WOTV4Women “Where You Live” show and check out Debra’s tips to build self-esteem in the Q & A below!
Managing Back-to-School Anxiety:
Q & A with Self-Esteem Expert Debra Gano, Founder & Publisher BYOU Magazine for Girls
Back-to-School can be a source of anxiety for many kids, whether it’s a new school or even going into a new grade. Of course kids don’t like the idea of doing homework again, but is it more than that?
DEBRA: Much of the anxiety kids feel this time of year is actually related to anticipated social pressure kids face today. Yes, there’s concern about grades and teachers, but what often stresses kids the most about going back to school, especially if it’s a new school, is wondering what this year will bring in terms of relating to other students. Kids put a tremendous amount of energy into fitting in, often at the expense of their own well-being and their learning, and parents are not often aware just how much social pressure their child is facing, especially in the upper elementary grades and beyond.
How can parents become more aware and help their child?
DEBRA: Parents put a lot of attention of getting ready for school with new clothes and getting the right school supplies, but often overlook the most important element they can provide their child, and that is confidence. A lack of self-esteem can create a great deal of stress for a child in school. Positive self-esteem is a child’s most powerful defense against the challenges of the world—and with social pressure, bullying (both in school and online), and relational aggression being prevalent in schools today, our kids need to be as empowered as possible!
Tips for Parents to Help Build Self-Esteem from Debra Gano:
• Create communication – Not all kids are open to sharing, or you may have let your busy lifestyle limit the quality time you spend together, but make it a point over the next few weeks to carve out time to just talk individually with your child. Rather than saying, “We need to talk” which puts them on the defensive, suggest a stroll, a trip to get ice cream, or a picnic in the park. Ask her how she feels about going back to school and what her concerns are for this upcoming year, then suggest you do a few projects together to help her feel her best about herself when starting the new experience.
• Plan projects – Plan “empowerment time” and ask her to write a list of what she likes about herself and what she feels her strengths are. Help remind her of things she’s overlooked and help her discover new qualities she might explore. Then, with 2 sets of sticky notes, each of you can put her positive qualities on these and use them throughout the year in places she’ll see, like her locker or bathroom mirror. Imagine her delight in getting a surprise sticky note in her lunchbox from you that says, “You are so loved!” Encourage her to also create a poster for her bedroom wall or notebook cover with her list of positive-statements about herself. Find a piece of jewelry or backpack charm that reminds her of how awesome she is! You want to surround your daughter with as many positive resources as possible to help counterbalance the negativity that bombards her daily from peers and society at large.
• Help her understand her feelings and the behavior of others – Bullying occurs because of deep insecurity and fear—think of how an animal reacts when threatened; it either attacks or cowers. People are the same way, especially children who are still emotionally immature, and you don’t want your child to be a bully or the victim of one. A child with high self-esteem won’t bully others, and she will be able to stand up for herself or have the courage to stand up for others. If she understands that a bully will bully others due to their own insecurities, it gives her more power to react in a healthy and empowering manner.
Get more empowering tips and self-esteem advice from Debra Gano in our Girls Empowerment Membership program! For only $19.99 a year; that’s just over $1.50 a month for much-needed self-esteem support girls need in today’s world!