- Ask about their feelings. Are they happy, excited, scared, nervous? Ask questions and really listen to their school experience. Empathize with them where appropriate and reflect and repeat back what they are saying. Understand where the struggles might be so you can step in where needed.
- Meet the new teacher if possible before school starts. Most teachers will be absolutely thrilled and excited to schedule a 1:1 session with their kids. This will help to ease a child into a new school year and ease the anxiety and tension they might be experiencing. They can familiarize themselves with their new surroundings and get that comfort before the first day.
- Normalize the nervousness. Everyone gets nervous before the first day of school. Even the kids the love it, still get nervous. It's the fear of the unknown about your teacher, the other students, the work, the environment - completely normal! Most kids worry they are the only ones experiencing this though and are afraid to talk about it.
- Share your own experiences. This relates directly back to the previous statement. Share your own experiences with them and times when you might have been nervous as well. Sometimes it helps to hear how someone else might have handled the situation.
- Find someone that might be in their class. If possible find them a friend. This might be possible in your meeting with the teacher. Find a class list and find someone that you can have them meet. Or if you're lucky enough, someone they know and are comfortable with themselves. It helps to face something new if you've got a friend by your side.
- Find an appropriate “good bye.” Often times "good bye" can be a trigger for kids. It seems so final. For those anxious kids it might be better to say "see you later" or even more specifically "see you at 3."
- If possible walk them directly in the first day. This is clearly meant for younger children. If at all possible, walk them in directly and that cuts down on the anxiety that happens in the mornings with all the chaos of other children and not knowing what you're supposed to do on the first day.
- Let them pick their own school supplies. School was by far the best part of getting ready for school. I got to pick my own things and build my own confidence through being an individual. Letting them be directly involved in the process helps get them more comfortable as well as builds confidence.
- Facilitate independence. By this I mean be more of a parent facilitating problem solving rather than problem fixing. Don't be the parent that jumps in to fix things, help them identify possible solutions to their problem and pick the best answer for them. Jumping in, especially with school problems, is a natural response but kids need to build their skills and learn to be independent.
- Don't cry at drop off. As a parent, we all experience the natural sadness of a child growing up and realizing they don't need us as much anymore. Our emotions and crying at drop off can actually cause more anxiety for your children who are very sensitive to parent needs and feelings. It's ok to cry, just wait until after they've gone.
- Be the example. Be a positive example for your kids especially in social situations. Let them see you introducing yourself to new parents and showing that confidence. Children watch everything we do and directly learn from our example. It might not seem like it, but they see everything. You being confident will help them build their own confidence and appropriate social skills.
- Become involved in their school experience. I am a working mom and pretty busy, but when my daughter starts school I will absolutely make time to be to school with her. Become involved through PTA or volunteering in a classroom. When they are older let them know you support them by going to all their activities. Make the necessary time for them to show them they are your number one.
The school year is quickly approaching again! This was the most exciting time of the year for me as a child, but starting a new school year can also be very anxiety provoking for a lot of kids. Here are 12 tips to hopefully make that transition as smooth as possible for your kids.
There is so much research currently that identifies the negative effects of technology and device usage in children, but what about our families? This blog idea came to me when my own toddler came up to me one day and looked at my computer, said, "Mommy, off," made a motion as if she was about to close my lap top, and grabbed my hand to get me to go play with her. I hadn't realized until that moment but I really had been on my computer a lot that day. How sad that she had to point that out before I even realized that myself.
How much time are we on our own devices and not spending time with our family? I've also heard from several patients in the past who have mentioned several things such as "I wish the internet had never been invented" because their parents spend so much time sitting on the internet rather than spending time with them. Sometimes those are extreme examples that I hear, but it affects us all still the same.
Jan Cloninger and Rosemary Strembicki, LCSW posted an article (link here) through huffingtonpost.com that looks at the effects of technology on not only children, but also families. They listed several great questions that we can use to analyze our own usage, but I chose two very powerful questions below and added a few of my own.
* Is family time interrupted because of electronics?
* What kind of messages are you sending to your children about using electronics?
* How much electronic time is there versus family time?
* What's the first thing you do when you get home? Is it get online or is it speaking with our kids?
They also provided several helpful suggestions for changes that I have made some adaptations to as well.
* Have a basket at your front door to deposit electronic devices. This is for parents and kids. Devices can be allowed after things such as homework are done and dinner is finished to allow more quality time together and to manage priorities appropriately.
* Use this as a teaching tool to help set limits. Kids learn directly from watching parents, set limits for yourself as well as them to provide an appropriate example.
* Make things such as television or movies a family event to talk about what you've watched and how it relates with family values and beliefs.
* Engage in family conversation more by setting your devices aside.
Through research and scanning internet pages, I came up with several articles that had great examples of how powerful devices can be and the effects on family - both positive and negative. I have listed them below in case readers are interested in other resources. Ultimately though, what is more important? Our technology or our family? Where can we start to make even the smallest changes to make a difference? I'm definitely no fanatic or a stranger to this problem myself, but I do hope to make my own smaller changes for the strength of my family. Feel free to share any comments or changes you might have made!
How Our Digital Devices are Affecting Our Relationships
Digital Age Affects Family Time and Relationships
Put Down that Cellphone!