August is full of transitions, specifically with the change of summer break to school. It was always surprising to me how much I looked forward to the summer in May and how I was equally ready for school to start come August. I also know a few Moms and Dads who mourn the end of summer. Everyone is different.
With transitions come change, and for all of us (parents and children alike), change can be frustrating and sometimes hard. So I have a few gentle suggestions as you and your family move toward the new school year:
- Be patient with your children. The new school year for children of all ages, kindergarten up to seniors in high school, is always a mix of excitement and worry. It’s normal and not something to ignore or downplay. Allow your children to be cranky, give them some extra attention, and don’t choose the week or days before school to give them a hard time about issues.
- Be patient with yourself. Emotions are contagious. If your kids are anxious/worried, then you will be more likely to take this stuff on to. Be aware and choose not to. Take care of yourself during this time, and develop a mantra if needed. You know, something like: “This is only temporary! I can get through this. We will all be okay.” (That one has definitely worked for me.)
- Help them problem solve around issues they’re anxious about. Bring the issues up and then listen to your child. For example, your child is worried about whether or not he will be able to get the new lock on his locker open in time to make it to each class. (This is a big deal for certain ages.) Talk with him about how those are the kinds of things he will figure out. Another option: If he is still nervous, go to the school a day or so before it starts and practice. A third option: Have him talk to a teacher or other friend about it.
- Express confidence in your child’s ability and effort. Regardless of the issue or your child’s age, always say something like, “I’m confident in your ability to figure this out,” “I’m confident in your ability to solve this problem,” or “I’m so proud of the effort you are making to take care of this.” When kids are led to believe they are capable, they do better and can accomplish more than we give them credit for.
- Plan as much as you can. Do try to give yourself extra time to get to the orientation and the first week of school. Build good habits that will last the school year, such as setting out clothes and packing backpacks and lunches the night before, and arriving on time/early for school.
- Create room for yourself and your children to make mistakes. As you embark on a new year, no matter how much you and your child prepare, there are bound to be some problems. After all, life is not perfect and never will be. When there are hiccups or challenges, try not to let it be horrible/awful/terrible. I used to say to my children, “Well, it’s not great, but this is not the end of the world, is it?”
It must have been helpful to them, because, even now, as my children have things happen to them, they will say to me, “You know, Mom, I wasn’t happy about it, but it’s not the end of the world or anything.” It always brings a smile to my face when I hear that.
As we move into the school year, I also wanted to encourage you to try and have some fun as you help your kids pick out school supplies, new clothes, go to orientation, and start the new year. Learning and school are an important part of life. Yes it is busy and can feel like a whirlwind, but remember that your children need and want you to enjoy it with them. So do, go, and be a part.