For parents, this is a magical time of year. It is when the kids return to school. This means that there is a normal that can quickly be settled into once again or perhaps it might mean establishing a new normal. Not all kids will think of September (or as often is the case, the end of August) with the same feelings of relief.
Some kids worry about school as it might represent an unknown. Maybe it is hard to navigate the social hierarchy that is established or the academic demands. Since school is a child’s “work place,” it is no surprise that they develop feelings of competence and self-worth based upon whatever feedback they are given (either by peers, teachers, administrators, or parents). Often, we see kids that are convinced that they are “bad” and start to act that way since they have internalized the expectation. As adults, we get frustrated with kids and these are moments when we tend to say things without thinking. In order to foster an accurate sense of self for our kids, it is important to separate behaviors that we dislike from characteristics.
An example might be that you don’t like how your 7-year-old jumps up and down when he’s talking. Rather than say, “You are annoying me when you jump and talk” you might try something like, “I’m finding it hard to listen to what you are saying when you are also jumping.” You’ve now identified the behavior that is annoying rather than labeling your child that way.
Another thing to keep in mind as the school year begins is to set your child up for success. This might mean touring a new school, going over the schedule, talking in depth about what is coming up for them, or having them close their eyes as you both talk through what the day might look like.
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