August can be an exciting yet anxious time for kids as they return to school for the new school year. For some kids, they are starting school for the first time. Others are transitioning into a new grade, a new school or college, which can stir up fear and excitement at the same time. The world has changed and feels a bit different post-COVID. Kids are facing a new set of fears and concerns with new COVID variants, recent school shootings, mental illness, diversity, equity, inclusion (DEI), bullying, and the drug epidemic facing so many young people.
No wonder stress and anxiety are real emotions kids face as they transition into the new school year. The fears of rejection, criticism, comparison and failure can cause all kinds of insecurity and stress for our kids and us as parents. These issues and countless other uncertainties have a way of breeding insecurity.
4 Things to Remind Your Kids About Fear:
1. Fear Paralyzes Potential
When our kids allow fear to control their perspective, it will limit their effectiveness at school. That is what fear does; it paralyzes you.
2. Fear Ruins Relationships
Fear causes us to cover up and pretend to be something we’re not. It will cause us to move into isolation and miss opportunities for new friendships.
3. Fear Hijacks Happiness
It makes us miserable and hinders our happiness. What we focus on tends to expand in our minds. Encourage your kids and remind them that happiness is a choice. Don’t let them rob themselves of their happiness.
4. Fear Sabotages Success
Fear can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. It can set us up for failure. Fear will cause your kids to feel like quitting before they start. It will sabotage their success academically, athletically, socially, mentally and emotionally.
How to Help Your Kids Feel Secure and Confident:
1. Change Their Thinking
It’s easier said than done, but they can either choose to see the glass half-full or half- empty. It’s a matter of perspective and how they think about their situation and circumstances. The late Zig Ziglar once said, “You are what you are and where you are because of what has gone into your mind. You change what you are and where you are by changing what goes into your mind.”
2. Embrace Their Uniqueness
Remind your kids that in one cubic foot of snow, there are 18 million snowflakes. Not one of them are alike. Like those snowflakes, all of us are unique. Out of more than six billion people on Earth, there is only ONE YOU. You are an original, one of a kind. You have a DNA no one else has. There has never been nor will another person ever be like them. Rather than trying to conform to the pressures, our culture places on our kids to find acceptance and approval, encourage them to embrace their uniqueness.
3. Believe in Themselves
When kids feel insecure and fearful, they become vulnerable to temptation. They will tend to isolate themselves out of fear of rejection or failure. Feelings will distort their reality. They will begin to place doubt on themselves and question their true worth, identity and abilities that are unique to them. As parents, never has there been a more critical time than now to encourage and equip your kids with the confidence and belief that they can rise above their fears and insecurities to reach their full potential.
A simple tool is what I call “Affirmation Cards” or “Declaration Statements” that can be written on sticky notes or 3×5 cards. The statements are designed to be positive reinforcements to remind our kids of their abilities, potential and uniqueness. You can also send them text messages throughout the day with encouraging notes and affirmations. Be intentional in engaging their world and their emotions. Don’t criticize, condemn or judge them for feeling insecure, timid or doubtful. Instead, remind them that you are their number one fan. You believe in them, are with them, and care for them. Bring fun and creativity into their back-to-school experience and celebrate and affirm them every step along the way. These are just a few ways we can help our kids change their thinking, embrace their uniqueness, and believe in themselves.
Rodney Gage is a family coach, author, speaker, and the founding pastor of ReThink Life
Church that meets at Lake Nona High School. His passion is to help families win at home and in life. To receive a FREE copy of one of his books, go to https://www.thedoublewinclub.com. To learn more about his marriage and parenting coaching, check out thewinningfamily.com and rethinklife.com