My daughter consistently received D’s and F’s on her school work last year.
On the rare occasions when she earned C’s, we rejoiced! Our motto was, “In this house, we celebrate C’s”.
In all seriousness, the past few years have been tough for my daughter. A series of unfortunate events left indelible scars on her psyche.
She persevered through a pandemic.
She endured the devastating divorce of her dad and me.
She survived the shuffling between homes.
She navigated new living arrangements.
She started attending a new school where she didn’t feel like she truly fit because of her skin color, hair texture, and body shape.
She learned to live with Hashimoto’s Disease and Convergence Insufficiency.
All of these traumas contributed to anxiety, which manifested as poor choices, complaining, a disrespectful attitude, and daily conflicts with peers and adults.
My baby girl often displayed irritability and anger.
There were outbursts, negative self-talk, and tears.
So many tears.
There were physical symptoms as well. Most days of the week, she complained of having an upset stomach and headache. Her digestive system was a wreck, which led to more discomfort.
She would complain daily that she didn’t want to go to school, and would often vocalize her unsolicited opinion that “school is stupid”.
Needless to say, she had difficulty focusing in school, which resulted in poor grades and poor relationships with peers.
I knew that we had to make some changes in order to help her become the best version of herself.
One of the things that I started doing was giving her lunchbox letters.
I would write a simple message on a piece of paper and stick it in her lunchbox. My goal was to do it a few times a week, but then my sweet girl said, “I love when you write me the letters.”
That’s all my mama heart needed to hear. It quickly became a five-day-a-week thing.
She later told me that she would rather me write letters than cook her dinner.
She also stated that getting to lunch and finding/reading the letters was her favorite thing about the day. (Whew! The letters beat out gym AND recess!!! We were on to something!)
As a visual artist and writer, creating these cards brought my heart joy.
But what brought me even more joy was seeing the effects that they were having on my love.
She gave more thought to her words and actions.
She was quick to apologize for a disrespectful attitude and misbehavior.
She began displaying more control when she got upset.
She started having less frequent and less intense outbursts.
Tears stopped being a daily occurrence.
ANNNND, on a selfish note, she started snuggling with me more frequently. 🥰
By no means have the lunchbox letters taken away the trauma that she has experienced or all of the feelings of anxiety that creep up. They have not fully eliminated the aforementioned behaviors. However, the lunchbox letters with heartfelt words that carry weight have become a beacon of encouragement and love.
And encouragement and love are two ingredients that we all need to #Levelup.
Oh yes, she received a 90% on a timed math assessment last week!!!!!
P.S. → Please note that the lunchbox letters are just one of the things we’ve implemented that have contributed to the noted improvements. They are just one piece of the puzzle, but they are something simple that we can all do to help our children and students #LevelUP!