January Parenting Tip: Back to School

It’s hard to believe the second half of the school year has begun.  For those children, especially pre-schoolers, who had a difficult time adjusting when the school year started, they may find returning from winter break to be a challenge as well.  I remember when my son was three and he would pretty much cry every day when I dropped him off at pre-school.  After a few months, it seemed hopeful and was getting easier and easier… and then winter break came and we had to start all over again.

Anytime a child’s routine is altered, it takes some getting used to.  Same goes for adults.  It has been so nice not running around for the past couple of weeks to and from school and activities, along with not dealing with the crazed mornings of getting three kiddies up, dressed, fed and out the door by 7:20.  I am a routine kind of gal so I was glad to get back into the swing of things, but this first week has definitely been a hard adjustment for all of us.

School has always been challenging with my son, who is now four.  He is extremely attached to me and is definitely a mama’s boy!  You may remember my November 2011 Parenting Tip, where I discussed thinking outside the box and being creative when it came to finding solutions for a more pleasant school experience.  The” Magical Shorts” were a big hit but I knew this year, I would have to come up with something even better.  Meet the “Magic Mints”!

Here’s how it works!  Every morning before school starts, I distribute two mints.  I use Tic Tacs because they are small and are always in my car but you can use whatever works for you.  I hand one mint to my son and I take the other.  We then chant, “Magic, magic, magic mint…I hope Julian has the best of days.  Magic, magic, magic, mint, I love Julian in every way”.  You can of course tailor your saying to your child’s needs.  We then both blow on the mint, quickly put it in our mouths and then seal it with a kiss.  I told my son the mints are magical and very powerful, and will help us stay in each other’s hearts and minds, even though we are not physically together while he is at school.  I also explained that the mints will make sure he doesn’t cry anymore and will make him happy instead.  We did this every morning for the first two months of school and it really helped him be more confident, which led to making more friends, learning more and being happy.  Hearing that, “Bye Mommy“, and watching him run off with his friends was something I thought I would never see.  One day out of the blue my son said to me, “Mommy, I don’t think I need the magic mints anymore”.  I teared up and said, “I don’t think you do either”.

When it came time to head back to school after winter break this week, I was worried he would not want to go.  I made sure I was fully stocked with magic mints just in case.  Not to my surprise, as we pulled in the parking lot, he asked if he could have them.  I smiled and off we chanted.

Not only is this ritual a cute way to start the day, but it’s a special bond that my son and I share.  We look forward to it and it really does the trick!   I should also note that my breath has never been fresher.  Don’t be afraid to be silly, get creative and come up with really fun ways to connect with your child and help them through certain issues they are having.  I have never seen my son so excited to go to school and if these magic mints can help give him the confidence he needs, then I am all for it.   If your child is having trouble separating from you at school in the morning, or just needs a little help getting back on track after a long winter break, try something that works for you and your child,  and remember to have fun with it.