The August Parenting Tip-Back to School Edition:

Have you noticed your child acting out a bit, craving attention, or behaving in a manner that is not typical for his/her personality?  Instead of getting frustrated, yelling and turning to punishment, think about what else could actually be the cause.

It’s back to school time and your little one may be feeling nervous and apprehensive about either heading back to school or attending for the first time.  Here are some tips on how to approach your child and gain an understanding about your child’s emotions towards school:

  • As a parent, it’s hard to stay patient when your child is acting up:
    • Take a deep breath and think about if there is an underlying issue that is really the culprit.
    • Is your child hungry, tired, sick or worried about something?
    • Has your child expressed enthusiasm towards school or trepidation towards his upcoming year?
    • How does your child react when the subject of school is mentioned?
  • Put yourself in your child’s shoes:
    • How did you feel about going to school?  Were you excited, scared or intimidated?
    • How would it feel to have someone sympathize and understand your feelings?
    • How would you have liked to have been approached about this subject when you were little?
  • What is the best way to approach your child?
    • Utilize bedtime/cuddle time to talk to your child and find out what is really going on.
    • Take your little one out to a special back to school lunch to connect.
    • Don’t wait to your child comes to you.
    • Tell your child about your experience with school.
  • If your child is resistant to conversation or not interested in sharing his thoughts, try a different avenue:
    • Music is a powerful way to reach and teach children.
      • “First Day of School” from the award winning children’s CD, “Music is Magical, Children’s Songs with Ellie” is a wonderful parenting tool. (Listen to a sample below).
      • Your child will be singing, dancing, learning and discovering his emotions without even knowing it.
      • Utilize the lyrics to start your conversation and explore whether your child is happy about school or anxious.
    • There are many books available about starting/returning to school that can be helpful.
  • Start early:
    • Don’t wait until the last minute to start these conversations.
    • Start now…it’s not too late.
    • Talk about school and what your child should expect.
    • Incorporate school into your daily conversations.
    • Look for opportunities to get your child used to heading to school on his own, i.e. leaving him at your gym’s nursery or hiring a sitter for a bit while you run errands.
  • Be supportive and not dismissive:
    • Listen to your child and let him know his feelings are valid.
    • If he expresses stress, don’t tell him he will be fine and end the conversation there.  Instead listen to his thoughts and validate them by expressing that it is okay to feel nervous.
    • Educate him that everyone else is feeling the same way and it is normal to feel scared.
    • Make sure he knows he can share his thoughts with you any time and you will be there to hear them.
    • This open door policy will make him feel comfortable about approaching you.
    • If he knows you are there to discuss the first day of school, he will approach you with any issues during the school year.
  • Start your conversations at the store:
    • Take your child shopping for a new backpack and lunchbox, which will get him excited about school.
    • Let him pick what he loves (even if you might not).  Remember, it is about making him feel comfortable.
    • Discuss why you are buying these materials for him and what they will be used for.
    • Let him play with his new school items and talk about them in the weeks leading up to school.
  • Provide a positive environment for your child when it comes to the topic of school:
    • If your child has older siblings, ensure they do not make negative comments about school around him.
    • During mealtime, have everyone say three reasons they are excited about the new school year.  Even if your little one doesn’t completely speak yet, he will soak in the information and feel hopeful, supportive and encouraged.
    • While going back to school is exciting, it means change for everyone. Be sure not to complain about the new schedule around your child and create a reason for him to want to stay home instead.
  • Your child should know what to expect:
    • Explain the drop off and pick up procedures.
    • Let him know you will say goodbye, give lots of kisses, and will come back for him when school is over.
    • Tell your child that it is okay for him to feel sad at school and miss you, and that you will miss him too.
    • As each day progresses, share that it will get easier.
  • Continue monitoring your child’s behavior once school starts:
    • Just because school has started doesn’t mean your child no longer needs your emotional support.
    • There will be additional fears that could cause stress, such as how to handle being left out, making new friends, getting frustrated at school, homework, new rules, etc.

School is quickly approaching or may have even started for some.  Pay attention to how your child is behaving and you will most likely be able to figure out what his attitude is towards school.  All children and their parents go through the first day of school emotional roller coaster, whether it’s in preparation for kindergarten, 3rd grade, high school or beyond.  Change is scary, especially for children.  With a lot of love, understanding, patience, support and a little investigating, you can both get through this!

SCHOOL IS COOL, SCHOOL IS COOL…AND SO ARE YOU!  WOO HOO!

Listen to a sample of “First Day of School”, a Parents’ Choice Award winner!

Full Version Available at MommyMasters.com and iTunes.

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 TOGETHER WE CAN MASTER MOTHERHOOD!™