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Back to School

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Back to School - Find Your Feisty Podcast, Episode 29

Highlights for Back to School

  • Back to school, back in the day (0:30)
  • What our kids need to hear (1:55)
  • What we need to do (and NOT do) for our kids (5:20)
  • A Back to School mantra for everyone (8:40)

Back to School

Today is the first day back to school in my neck of the woods. I know a lot of you have kids who started school weeks ago, but what can I say, around here we squeeze every last second out of summer!

Back to School, Back in the Day

I loved going back to school when I was a kid. Heck, I LOVED everything about school! My mother said I was a freak-weirdo for it, but I loved it.

My excitement about going back to school was mostly about getting new stuff – with a new lunch box and a new box of Crayola 64, all was right in my world! Those sharp crayons meant EVERYTHING to me 😊

I lived in a pretty big neighborhood, and almost everyone I knew walked to its elementary school. We lived near each other, we played with each other, and we went to school together.

Mrs. Gately was our crossing guard and saying good morning to her was a great way to start my day. She was so happy and joyful – it was magical! I felt like such a big kid because I got to walk to school by myself and say Hi to her.

I never had a chance to miss my friends because they all lived right down the street. We spent the whole summer together, at the pool or riding bikes or running around playing tag.

Back to School: What Our Kids Need to Hear

And just the other day, I started to think about things I wanted to tell my nieces and nephews as they were getting ready to go back to school. I thought…

What do I wish someone would have told me? What would have helped me as I was going through school? What do I know now that might help them?

And here’s a list of what I came up with—

Ask questions.

Be bold.

Don’t be afraid to be different! Be willing to be unique. I always hated my name because I wanted to fit in … I wanted to be a Tina or a Julie. But the truth is, I wasn’t meant to fit in, I was meant to stand out.

Be a good friend.

Be inclusive! Don’t exclude people or fall into that mean-girl crap.

Be kind! You have no idea what other kids are dealing with at home.

Don’t make fun of people! Treat people as you want to be treated.

Have fun!

Work hard.



Speak up.

Ask for more.

Ask for help.

Ask how you can be of help.

Be creative with your projects and your solutions.

Be open and willing to take on whatever comes your way.

Be flexible. Roll with the changes and the punches.

Stop competing! Focus on yourself. It’s like the game of golf – you’re only playing against yourself and trying to beat your own best score! Stop focusing on other people … you do not need to compete with anybody else.

NO cheating! There’s no benefit to you in the long run, and it’s WRONG! If you have to cheat to win or get a better grade, then you haven’t won anything – you’ve stolen it!

Things may be difficult at times, but you can do hard things!

You may not always get what you want, and that’s okay. You may not get the part in the play or a spot on the team or be picked for the art show … and it’s okay. Something better will come along for you. What matters is that you were willing to show up, you put yourself out there, and you did your best.

Someone will always be better, faster, stronger, and smarter than you are – and that’s okay, too. You don’t have to be THE best … you only have to be YOUR best!

If you don’t succeed – try, try, try again!

I’m here for you!

I believe in you!


Back to School: What We Need to Do (and NOT Do) for Our Kids

As I wrote out that list, I realized it really is a good reminder for all of us, not just the kids!

And I also came up with a few back-to-school reminders for parents

Don’t push your kid to be like anyone else … let them be who they are. Cousin Timmy got all As, and Across-The-Street Alex made the varsity team, but your kid didn’t. Well, who cares what other kids are doing or accomplishing?

Your kid has their own unique gifts and talents. Help your kid figure out what those are – and who they are – instead of holding them up to someone else’s accomplishments and standards. Guide them into being their best self instead of a better version of someone else.

Don’t ask your kid, “So-and-so did it, why didn’t you?” or tell them they should try harder to top someone else … should is a dangerous word. It’s more supportive to say they could try harder, or that they could do better next time.

When I was a kid, I was devastated when I didn’t make the all-star softball team. My Dad looked at me and said, “Try harder next year,” not to try harder than so-and-so. He encouraged me to improve on my performance, not to be better than someone else.

Don’t encourage your kid to put other kids down. When your kid accomplishes something, they don’t need to rub it in anyone’s face with a “Ha! I got it, and you didn’t!” That doesn’t benefit either kid, and it takes away from your kid’s achievement. Let your kid be happy with their own accomplishments without a need to feel superior over someone else.

If they try to achieve only to beat someone else, they could spend their adult lives looking for external validation that they’re good enough, and that’s hard to sustain. Start early with teaching your kid to look inside themselves and at their personal best for the ruler to measure with.

Remember that kids are listening to how we talk and how we navigate the world. It’s our job to be good role models, and that means staying aware of and catching how we talk about ourselves, our friends, our jobs, and everything around us.

A Back to School Mantra for Everyone

I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes from Brené Brown—

Don’t shrink, don’t puff up – stand your sacred ground.

It feels good when I think about telling the kids this as they go back to school. Here’s how I explain it, piece by piece—

Don’t shrink. This means don’t be afraid of a challenge or the hard things that are coming up. Don’t feel that you’re unworthy or try to make yourself smaller than you are. Whenever I feel like this, I want the ground to open up and swallow me whole, and it does no good to feel that way. Just be who you are.

Don’t puff up. This is the flipside of Don’t shrink – don’t try to cover up your insecurities by puffing out your chest and proclaiming, “Yeah, I’m the best!” Don’t try to be something bigger, better, or badder than you are. Just be who you are.

Stand your sacred ground. Show up as who you are, the way you are, right now, in this moment … that is good enough. You don’t have to be quieter or smaller, bigger or bolder, the best at everything there is, or anything else.

Just be yourself … there is nothing else you have to do.


And with that, I’ll say: HAPPY BACK TO SCHOOL, EVERYBODY!





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