My eleven year old daughter Erica is starting sixth grade in a few short weeks.
New grade, new school: middle school. New everything.
Remember sixth grade?
For me it was probably one of the toughest of my school years. Not due to the academics,
but due to the general changes, stress, and peer pressure, not to mention all the hormones
and all the changes that are going on with your body and emotions.
In a school where the grades are sixth, seventh, and eighth, the sixth graders are the little fish in the big pond. Gone are the days of elementary school familiarity. This is a time of big change. I think one of the things that is most difficult during this year is that the kids are each trying to figure out exactly where they fit in. They become a bit more conscious of their appearance. They also become more sensitive to what others think.
Mostly, they just want to feel like they belong.
When I heard about Dove's Self-Esteem Toolkit for girls, I was immediately interested.
I had seen some of Dove's new commercials that focused on embracing your inner beauty.
I loved the commercials. I loved what they stood for. I went to Dove's website and
and downloaded the Self-Esteem Toolkit and then began to read. My goal? To maybe ease some of my daughter's worries about sixth grade, and to help her realize that she didn't need to worry about what other people thought about her, and that she was perfect exactly the way she was. I wanted to boost her self confidence.
What did I find on the Dove website and in the toolkit? I found a wealth of useful and important information. In my opinion, Dove really went above and beyond by offering the tools and information on the site. I found it all to be extremely helpful and relevant. I especially liked that the information was age-specific, that there was a drop-down menu for me to choose my daughter's age, my role, and also what self-esteem topic we wanted to learn about. I talked with Erica about checking out the website and toolkit together and she was very interested. As a matter of fact she was more interested than I thought she would be, and this both surprised me and pleased me! We chose to do an activity from the toolkit. The self-esteem topic we chose was under the sub-title "Culture & Media." The activity? For her to teach me something, for us to do together an activity that she enjoys. What did she choose?
To teach me to play a song on her guitar. Yikes!
Erica is a natural guitarist. She just has "it."
It's been one year since she handed me this note, asking for her first guitar.
Yes, I saved the note :)
My lesson commenced. There is something in the joy of seeing how my daughter opened up because she was sharing with me something that was very important to her. We were experiencing the connection. It was a moment between us that was pure. She was being her true self. Not only did I find so much joy in that fact, but even more importantly, I could see she was happy in truly being herself. Not what she thinks she should be like due to what peers or others think.
In any regular, ordinary day, in the face of a world of insecurity, feeling like she has to be a certain way to fit in, to maybe look a certain way or act a certain way - that was all thrown to the wayside, and my child was truly being herself and was happy. When she played guitar she was in all her glory.
First she played the song for me and showed me the three chords that I'd have to learn.
I talked with her about how she felt at that moment. "How does playing guitar make you feel?" I asked. "Free," she said. And I knew what she was referring to. Free from worrying about other people's standards.
"Why guitar?" I asked.
I loved her response; "Because it accompanies my feelings," she said. Wow.
We sat side-by-side.
"It's only three cords," she said. "You'll be fine." I was lost. (Lol)
"It hurts my fingers!" I said. (It did!) After a few minutes I felt an ache in my wrist.
She re-positioned my fingers
I didn't give up, I tried again, and then gave her back the guitar and asked her to play it for me. She was SO good at this! I told her so. She smiled.
We talked about her feelings and the stresses of being a sixth grader. "I don't enjoy being part of the in-crowd, I don't like many of the things that most of those kids like, like pop music." she said. Seeing classmates "dating" was one thing that concerned her. She said, "I think to myself, you shouldn't be doing that (the dating), you're too young. It's pretty much because it seems so fake...it's just a status thing." I agreed and told her that I was proud that she realized that the dating was something that was not for sixth graders.
I asked her, "What does playing guitar have to do with kids in your age group who are dating?"
"Playing guitar lets me be an individual, it separates me from them." She described playing guitar as a safe place, a haven. "Playing guitar sets me apart from those people. It sets me apart and makes me unique and makes me feel special."
We also talked about how it’s important to have an interest, something that you are passionate about and how that helps you deal with the stresses of everyday life, and being a sixth grader. As we ended the activity, I could tell we both felt better because we had talked and had shared something special.
But it doesn't end here for us! We are next going to do the Inspiration Board activity, and also the Beauty All Around You activities! Thank you Dove! xo