How to help your kids have a great start to the school year and beyond.
It's back-to-school season, and there are a lot of mixed feelings about it. Kids have had a rocky last two years, and many are struggling to adapt and adjust to their "new normal." If this sounds like your kid, just know you are certainly not alone.
Here are some ways you can support your kids as they enter a new school year filled with new possibilities.
Tip #1 - Help them with their emotions.
Building your child’s emotional intelligence is one of the most important things you can do for them. That means teaching them how to identify their emotions and how to manage them, and how emotions look in other people. Expanding their emotional vocabulary by sharing your feelings and giving them space to share theirs will help you all become more comfortable with expressing yourselves in healthy ways and connecting on a deeper level. Because social-emotional learning is becoming more prevalent in schools, giving them that foundation at home will help reinforce what they are learning and how to use their emotion skills in positive ways.
Pro tips: Set a positive tone for each day by being calm and positive during their morning routine. This is easier said than done, but it will make all the difference for them and yourself.
Tip #2 - Remind your kids that everyone is different, and that's okay!
Bullying is on the rise in and out of school, so it’s vital to teach kids that everyone is different and no one deserves to be made fun of. Bullying is often an attention-seeking behavior. Help your child get the support they need and recognize the impact of their behavior on others.
If your child is being bullied, advocate for your child and teach them how to stand up for themselves. They should have trusted educators and professionals in the school building they can go to with this issue, so make sure they know who they are and that, that person is looking out for them. Kids often hide being the victim of bullying in fear of the problem getting worse or nothing being done, so give them reassurance that they are supported.
"Blowing out someone else's candle doesn't make yours shine any brighter." – unknown
Tip #3 - Make transitions smoother for them and you.
If you find your child struggling as they move from one thing to another, they may have a hard time with transitions. You can make transitions easier by including them when creating their routine, implementing fun and silliness, adding buffer time between tasks, and letting them make decisions whenever possible. Since play is a child's natural way to connect and learn, include it as often as you can to help them remember and enjoy their routines.
Pro tip: When my oldest was little, I put together some Daniel Tiger pictures that outlined our routine. We sang each song as we went through each step. As she's older, she has her own alarm, and we add more silliness and games to our routines.
Tip #4 - Understand your kid's love language.
Understanding how your child receives and gives love will help you bond and connect on a whole new level. Sometimes we scream and shout about all the things we've given them (gift giving) when they care more about receiving a hug (physical touch). They might want to run errands with you (quality time) instead of helping around the house (acts of service). And some kids really love hearing positive things about themselves or sharing positive things about others (words of affirmation).
Understanding your child's love language will make all the difference in their need for connection and attention and the behaviors that result from those needs.
Tip #5 - Give them space to unwind at the end of the day.
Just like we get tired after a long day of work, our kids get tired and maybe overstimulated after a long day at school. Give them space to unwind and relax in whatever way is most comfortable for them. They can change their clothes, listen to calming music, have a little screen time (if you allow it), or just sit in silence. Whatever works best for them and you're comfortable with it, let them unwind for a little bit to end the day on a positive note.
Tip #6 - Be flexible and mindful.
This school year may start out rough. Transitioning from summer fun to routines, deadlines, and various expectations can be overwhelming and not-so-fun for many kids. Try not to be so rigid, and make sure to schedule time for extra cuddles and conversations as often as you can to help them get used to all the newness.
No matter how old your kids are or how many times you've been through this, everyone needs a little grace at the start of a new school year. Give yourself time to adjust by waking up 15 minutes earlier than your kids and starting your day with affirmations, exercise, and positivity before you officially start your day.