Tweens, particularly those in middle school, can be notoriously negative. They can be hard on their peers; goodness knows they can be very critical of their parents; and most of all, as their bodies change and the social world gets harder to navigate, they can be especially negative about themselves. Thank goodness Amy Poehler has come to the rescue with some excellent advice.
As I've said before, I'm a big Amy Poehler fan, and I especially love her Smart Girls at the Party Ask Amy segments. While what she says is applicable to all, and often it feels like she is speaking directly to me and I'd like to be her best friend, she has valuable advice that is often perfect for tweens. It is often easier to hear it from a cool person on television than it is from, say, your mom. Especially when you're 12. In this segment, she addresses fighting negativity.
The negative comments from peers that echo through the junior high hallways can be hurtful and demoralizing. I think that is why this segment particularly jumped out at me as good for tweens. They need to know that they are better than what the nasty popular crowd says. And they need to remember that their words and outlook have power as well.
Here are four of her points that are particularly applicable to middle schoolers.
1. Distance yourself from negative people and thoughts. Middle school hallways are full of negative people and thoughts that are far from positive. Tweens more than anyone need the encouragement to not merely criticize, and that they don't need to be around people who do so needlessly.
Poehler says, "People who are negative tend to want to demean people's ideas. They say what they don't like, but they don't really say what they want to do. It's very hard to have ideas. It's very hard to put yourself out there. It's very hard to be vulnerable. But those people who do that are the dreamers, the thinkers and the creators. They're the magic people of the world. So try to strive to be one of those. Let those negative people and thoughts kind of stay where they are, which is away from you and in a separate place that you don't need to open."
Excuse me while I stand up and clap. Okay, standing ovation over, sitting back down now. Who wants to say anything negative after that?
2. Give yourself a break. Be nice to yourself. Poehler also talks about how people can be especially negative toward themselves and says we need "to try to stop the tape of mean words that we say to ourselves first, and give ourselves a break." That's a message that's good for middle schoolers, a demographic that can make self criticism a sport. It is just a rough phase, and physical changes can make it hard to feel positive about your body. Amy to the rescue! (I think she should wear a cape for these segment.) She urges viewers to be compassionate with ourselves.
3. She explains how to accept a compliment. This is tough for people of all ages, but her advice is simple: Say "Thank you." Period. She explains that it is not easy to accept a compliment, and that accepting love is not easy, either, but it is so nourishing when we do. So true, Amy. The sooner a person learns to say, "Thank you" and leave it at that, the better off they will be.
4. Give to others. I love that in under three minutes she talks about how to love ourselves, and others, and she several times mentions that when we accept something for ourselves, be it compassion, positivity or love, we then have more of that to give. Tweens and teens are known for being self-centered. They can only benefit from reminders to live in a manner that best enables them to give to others.
If you want to be positive, you can do so by liking Tween Us on Facebook.
If you liked this post, you may also like: Amy Poehler's advice about appreciating your body is great for all ages