The school year is just starting all over the country; children will be encountering new teachers, higher expectations, peers who may have grown or matured in varying degrees over the summer, and changing alliances among those peers. Your child may face a calm re-entry to the school year, or may be distressed to find himself in very unfamiliar, and unhappy, territory. Your child may look to you for comfort and support; how are you going to handle your role?
While every parent wants his or her child to be happy, successful, and well-liked, we don’t always get our wish. If your child is the one who comes home with a long face and teary eyes, be prepared to offer assistance that will build his skill-set and improve his level of resilience; comfort him, and help him search for what will help him the most. This would NOT mean providing solutions and answers, but helping him discover those solutions and answers on his own.
If your child is upset over a school issue, do not become overemotional about the issue.
- Stop and think: What else could be true? What might my child have left out of the story (intentionally or unintentionally)? Do not relate this situation to one that involved you when you were young. Realize this is a completely new situation that involves your child, not you.
- Ask questions. Exactly what happened? What were the responses? What did you say? How did you say it? How do you think it sounded/seemed to the other purple involved? What led up to the situation?
- Who else was there? Was there someone you could have asked for help about this at the time? Is this a big deal, or just a little something that happened? Is this worth worrying about, or could it be forgotten so tomorrow can be a fresh start?
- If someone says something about this incident tomorrow, how can your child respond that is neither unkind nor sarcastic to anyone, but treats the situation as no big deal so things don’t have to get out of hand?
- Is there an adult at school to whom your child could speak about this privately? Is there a teacher, counselor, administrator, or nurse who he trusts to keep a confidence, and give good advice?
- What can your child try, on his own, to solve this problem? What could be done differently next time? Or, with whom can your child spend his time instead of with that person(s)?
- Responding calmly to events that involve neither hurt nor intimidation, nor danger of any kind, lets your child know that not every issue needs to be treated like a major catastrophe. Sometimes things just don’t go our way; we can learn to accept this gracefully, and then move on to the next event.
If situations are reoccurring for your child, it may be advisable for you, as the adult, to speak confidentially to a teacher or counselor. Ask if they are aware of the event. Ask if they feel you need to be involved, or how they can help your child move forward. The object is to avoid over-parenting, a pattern that can compromise children’s autonomy, mastery, and personal growth. Rather, help your child grow into a competent, kind, resourceful person who has the resilience to survive the tough times.
Good luck; let me know how it goes.
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GPS for the Soul – The Huffington Post
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