For many, the beginning of the school year is a time filled with excitement, opportunities and growth. Others mourn the end of sleeping in and enjoying fun trips with the kids. And some dread the daily battles (e.g.getting out of the house on time, getting homework done and going to bed without a fight) that the school year often brings.
No matter what you may be feeling, here are 5 tips that will help you and your children have a successful, fun and yes, peaceful school year!
1. Send your child off to school each morning with a smile and a hug! The energy you bring to each new day will be matched by your child’s
energy. If you are happy and positive each morning, your child will be happy and positive. And the icing on the cake- your child will be more cooperative, too! A child who goes to school with a smile on his face and an extra skip in his step will be ready to take on the day, will be more able to focus and perform well! Hint: Establish a peaceful, fun morning routine with your child that works for you both.
2. Empower your children through Choices! When we have the ability to make decisions for ourselves, no matter our age, we feel in control of our life and simply put, we feel good! Nobody likes to be told what to do! Giving your child choices throughout the day, and on matters that only concern her, greatly ups the odds that her basic human need to be in control is satisfied which in turn, triggers cooperation. You can’t beat that! Great choices for the school year include: Homework- immediately after school or after a 45 minute break?; Math first or reading first? Lunch-take or buy? Peanut butter or turkey?; Bedtime- 8:00 or 8:15?; Vegetables- broccoli or carrots?; Extracurricular activity- soccer or art class? You get the idea. I wonder what choices (and ultimately decisions) your child would like to make?
3. Delay the “attack” of questions at days end. If you are anything like me, as soon as I saw my kids after school I would pounce- “How was your day? What did you do? What did you learn? Did you remember to ________? What’s your homework? Who did you play with at recess? Who did you sit with at lunch? Are you tired? Are you sure? You look tired. “ My poor kids!! I cringe that I did this. And no surprise, the answers were few and very non specific- sort of, no, maybe etc…Instead, save all your questions for later- most kids find all the questions irritating at best. They need time to process their day and to transition from school to home. Some of the most effective times to talk and find out about the day is during dinner where everyone takes turns sharing, driving to activities or at bedtime. Who knows, if you are patient and wait until your child is ready to talk, your child might even start talking without being nudged to do so! How amazing would that be!?!
4. Allow your child to work through his problems. Avoid “Fix-it” mode. When your child comes home from school and appears upset, hurt, angry, frustrated etc., your natural instinct is to protect your child, take over and fix whatever may be broken. I have a question for you-What message(s) are you sending your child by taking care of his problems?
Your child may have forgotten his homework assignment, failed a test, not been invited to a birthday party, or does not know who to play with at recess. We have all been this child at some point. What did you need most in those moments? Allow your child to feel what he is feeling and then if he gives you permission, guide him to solve his problem but refrain from solving it yourself. Brainstorming possible solutions together while allowing your child to make the ultimate decision as to how to solve his problem is a very effective approach to guiding without taking over while boosting his self-esteem. When your child believes that you believe in him, he will believe in himself. What message do you want to send your child?
5. Send your child to bed each night with good feelings, hugs and I love you’s!
Bedtime can be a magical time for bringing the day to a close with snuggles, stories and soft whispers of “I love you”. Lectures and any words of disappointment should be saved for other times during the day. If you want your child to go to bed and actually stay there (and I know you do!) it is best to establish a bedtime routine with your child that satisfies both your needs. A child wants to enjoy the process of going to bed. And you just want her in bed! (As a mother of 3, I get it!) However, if you find yourself nagging and yelling to get your child in bed, not only will bedtime take longer, but it will likely be met with little cooperation, frustration and even anger on everyone’s part creating a disconnect and delaying the process that much longer. When your child’s needs have been met, (BTW- having special time with you to connect is one of her greatest needs) your child will be more willing to get into bed without a fight and likely sleep through the night with sweet dreams!
Sharon Egan M.S. CPC
ACPI Certified Parenting Coach