“I don’t have any friends!” will be a lament heard by many parents after the first day of school.
Being friendless is a concern for many children and time will take care of most of that but there are other things to think about.
When Chelsey was in elementary school she complained she did not have any friends. I did my usual ‘mom’ thing and tried to help her feel better but then I actually began to observe her objectively— or as objectively as I could. I did my best to see her as other children would see her. After a few weeks I came up with a couple of things to discuss with Chelsey.
The first item up for discussion was what we have all heard for eons: Putting your best foot forward actually does begin with a great big smile! I noticed with Chelsey that when she did smile, her whole face would light up. When I looked around at other people the same thing held true. Eye contact is important; people gravitate to others who smile and look them in the eye.
That brings me to another point; I noticed when Chelsey walked her shoulders were rounded and she hugged her books as she walked, leaning as if against a strong wind. Correcting her posture gave her a more pleasing appearance:
Correct posture makes people feel better both inward and outward. It can also lessen stress that may cause headaches.
Imagine if you are a marionette and the string at the back of your neck is tugged upward. It will straighten the spine and the chin will lower a bit. Now pull shoulders back comfortably.
Here is an activity that you can use with children for fun and to bridge conversation toward appearance and posture:
Get a small mirror with a straight, flat edge (not round or magnified). Get a couple of magazines with people faces or even family photos and lay them flat on the table. Talk with children about people having two faces, a left side and a right side. Hold the mirror vertical with the edge on a face on the bridge of their nose. Look how mirroring only one side of a person’s face changes their looks. Flip the mirror now and look at the other side of their face. Discuss the subtle changes in the person’s face.
Here are four quotes I dug up that seem to reiterate the points:
I remember an interview so terrible with CNN’s Jon Klein, I nearly blurted out, ‘Forget it, I am a loser!’ But I didn’t need to say it. My face and posture did. ~Mika Brzezinski
If I feel confident wearing something, I think it translates in photographs. It changes my demeanor and posture. ~Nina Dobrev
I don’t want to be the center of attention. My posture has changed. I walk with my head down and shoulders slumped. Suddenly I carry myself as if I’m ashamed of something. ~Randy Harrison
My father taught me things about body language that psychologists have been catching up with ever since. He always knew when I was lying, because my posture was all wrong. ~Richard Griffiths
We know from experience that kids remember what parents tell them but rather than repeating “Smile,” you can devise a code or signal that means the same thing.
Good luck this school year!
What do you think?