TO ALWAYS HAVE EACH OTHER’S BACKS
I don’t expect them to get on all the time (which they most certainly do not) but I do expect them to know that – should metaphorical push come to shove – they will always back each other up.
I’ve even pulled out the old: ‘Friends will come and go, but family is forever’ line, because it’s totally true. There’s nothing like knowing you have someone (besides your Mum) who’s eternally and unfailingly in your corner, especially when you’re navigating those awkward teenage years.
BE KIND, EVEN WHEN THE PEOPLE AROUND YOU ARE NOT
It’s a natural reaction to seek revenge on the people who hurt you, but I’m trying to impress on the girls that it’s better to laugh off the haters than stoop to their level and try to get them back.
Anger and resentment takes so much time and effort, and I want the girls to be able to brush off negativity, rather than waste time feeding into it. Plus, is there any better way to stop a bully in their tracks than to be totally and utterly unfazed by their actions?
Mean Girls want you to get upset – when you don’t, you take the wind out of their sails, so I tell them to respond to nasty little digs with a big smile and the words: ‘Thanks for the feedback, I’ll take it on board.’
(FYI: I know schools are beginning to introduce emotional intelligence into their curriculum, but I’d love to see it given a much stronger focus).
DON’T FOLLOW THE HERD
Humans have an unfortunate habit of being influenced by their peers, causing them to react emotionally, rather than rationally. I want the girls to understand they don’t have to agree with the people around them. If something feels uncomfortable or wrong, I want them to have the courage to speak out, or – at the very least – not get caught up in the pack mentality.
This is something Big Sis already deals with at middle school, when new cliques are constantly being formed and allegiances switch daily. I can’t stop other kids from behaving this way, but I can teach my girls the importance of kindness, tolerance and loyalty and hope that it helps them to cut through the crap, and find genuine, lasting friendships.
SHAKE IT OFF
Kids can grab on to the smallest, silliest thing and use it against you… but only if you let them. I don’t tell the girls to ignore the meanies, but instead flip the script in a way they’re not expecting. Instead of getting defensive, know when you have nothing to apologise for!
Big Sis got targeted recently for taking a boiled egg in her lunchbox *eye roll*. When some boys tried to tease her about it, she gave them a withering look and shot back: ‘Guys, it’s just an egg – get over it.’ They didn’t get the reaction they were hoping for, so they quickly left her alone.
I also teach them not to take themselves too seriously – when you can laugh at yourself you join in with the joke, rather than being the butt of it.
MANNERS MAKETH THE GIRL
Literally nothing makes me happier than when strangers compliment the girls on their manners. It’s something I’m incredibly strict about – including how they speak to people, and to me. I encourage tehm to talk (or explain themselves…) openly, but don’t tolerate whining, sulking or answering back.
Just a few weeks ago we were out for a fancy lunch for my birthday and a fellow diner came up to us afterwards to say how well behaved the girls had been, and it literally made my heart sing. Manners don’t cost a thing, as the saying goes, and, in my opinion, they teach a child to be respectful and appreciative and much better company too!
What are the life lessons you teach your children?