At my tween girls’ social group this past week, I did an exercise where the girls were asked to make a True List. A True List is a list of all their positive attributes. The middle school girls who attend my social group do not exhibit a very high levels of self-esteem, so I fully expected to see a few blank pieces of paper. I was pleasantly surprised to see that each girl had written down positive attributes about herself. Here is an example of one of the lists:
Friendly – Polite – Appreciative – Happy – Quiet – Outgoing – Sometimes Shy – Confident – Responsible – Goal-Oriented – Persistent – Beautiful – Brave – Strong – Powerful – Hard Worker – Loving – Sweet – Smart – Empathetic – Enthusiastic – Respectful – Proud – Helpful – Bright – Compassionate – Funny – Supportive – Talented – Independent
I talked about why would we do such an exercise and how we can use it in daily life. In middle school, the cliques and meanness are hard to avoid. Some might say that having times when a tween feels “less than” while in middle school is inevitable. I asked the group a few questions about their lists. If someone doesn’t include you in a sleepover, which of these attributes should we delete? If someone doesn’t want to hang out with you, does that mean this list doesn’t apply to you anymore? Are you truly any less than or are you just being treated as if you are less than by the other girls? All the girls knew that the list of truths each had written about herself was indelible. The list is a true list of each girl and who she is as a person. It is a list that no matter what happens or how she is treated or if she is or is not included, the list is still true and will always be true. I had each girl put the list in her backpack or enter it into her phone to keep that list with her at school. I then encouraged each girl to use that list in those moments when someone hurts her or treats her badly: to pull it out, read it again and know what is really true.