DEAR HARRIETTE: My daughter just started back to high school, and she seems sad. She made a few friends last year, but she discovered that she is not in any classes with them this year. She thought that she would find some comfort in this new, big school because she had her crew to rely on, but she is finding herself having to be solo again. It seems that she is feeling vulnerable. How can I help her? -- Lost Her Peeps
DEAR LOST HER PEEPS: Social dynamics are important for high school students, so it is understandable that your daughter feels a bit off-kilter since she has no classes with her friends.
Help her to see that this can be a positive experience. She is in school in order to learn and grow. That means her focus in class should be targeted on her studies. Sometimes friends can become distracted when they are in class together. Urge your daughter to become laser focused on her work while she is in class. Encourage her to be actively engaged, to raise her hand a lot and to take participation seriously.
On the friend front, she can find times during lunch, free periods or after school to spend time with her crew. Also, since she is in class with other people, she may find that her friend group will expand or shift based on who she is getting to know this year.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I know that exposing my children to cultural activities will help to expand their minds, and it might even help them on tests. I have tried to get them to go with me to various cultural events in our city, but as they are getting older, they constantly protest whenever I suggest that we go to a museum, art show or fair. I don’t want to give up on exposing them to these things, but it is getting really hard to convince them to go with an open mind. What can I do to get them interested? -- Expand Your Horizons
DEAR EXPAND YOUR HORIZONS: Changing your children’s mindset is the biggest challenge you are facing. Forcing them to participate in these activities may create the unintended consequence of them dreading all cultural engagements. That is the opposite of your intention. So tread carefully. You have to get them genuinely interested.
What if you look for cultural activities with your children so that they participate in selecting where you will go? Look at community bulletin boards and various websites to learn what’s going on in your town. You may want to assign your children the task of identifying the top three potential things to do -- within a particular distance and price point. The more you can empower them to make choices, the more they may get into the idea of continuing the family tradition.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to email@example.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)