The school year is upon us again. The windows of stores are lined with back to school sale signs and shelves are full of school supplies. For most parents it’s a bitter sweet time. There is some relief in returning to a schedule and getting the kids busy, out of the house and back to their studies. However, there is an equal sense of fear or anticipation of specific struggles that only exist within the context of returning to the classroom. Most parents that have already sent their kids to school at least one year have experienced a series of special struggles that prior to entering formal education have never presented themselves. The following 10 issues are some of the top concerns that present themselves as kids go back to school.
Top 10 back to school concerns parents are dreading this school year
1. Homework wars
2. Dealing with acting out in the classroom (Disruptive or defiant behavior at school)
3. Morning routines (Sleep heads, morning grumpiness, late to the bus, etc.)
4. Over scheduling and lack of togetherness
5. Peer pressure
6. Attention problems
7. Academic performance and learning
8. Making friends at school
9. Preventing educational anxiety, boredom or burnout: (“I hate school!”)
10. Bully proofing your kid
We could all use a little help to calm the worry many parents feel surrounding back to school time. Rest assured that this year can be different. This year can be better. But how?
Remember the cycles
If your child had any of these problems last year, that is a pretty good indication that the same issues may arise this year. We don’t have to wait for the shoe to drop before we start to approach these school related concerns. Each of these problems functions within a cycle of thoughts, emotions, behaviors, environmental factors and relational interactions. Some of these factors are within our control and some are not, but we can get started before the problems arise in teaching and applying the principles of TRU parenting to change the cycles before they begin again. We can anticipate these problems before they arise and create a plan to address the “Before, During and After” of each of these conflicts to help our kids avoid or resolve them.
5 Steps for preventing and/or solving any of your child’s back to school troubles
Regardless of which problem you need to address and what skills you need to teach your children this school year, the following steps can help you help your child overcome the problem.
1. Anticipate and identify the problem then identify skills that will help your child overcome that problem. For instance, if the problem is that your child struggles to turn his homework in, you might address organization skills and accountability. If your child struggles with peer pressure, you might help them identify their core standards and values so they will be a leader among their friends and less vulnerable to pressure from peers.
2. Approach the problem during the “good times” and in an empathetic and fun way. You could say, “Hey, schools starting next week and I remember last year you struggled getting homework in to the teacher and you felt bad about that. I was thinking we could play a game or brainstorm some ideas about how we could make that better this year so that you are happier about how homework and school goes.” You could use art or play to brainstorm, identify and teach appropriate skills.
3. Create a plan of action. Write down the skills and a plan of what your child can do and what you will do to help them to achieve the goals of their plan. Also talk about how you and they will follow up on the plan. They can test what works best for them and report back.
4. Follow through with the plan. Get rid of the nagging, complaining, lectures or punishments that have accompanied the problem in the past and instead, follow the plan that was set, including setting reasonable limits, boundaries and consequences.
5. Evaluate and reevaluate as needed. Evaluate and start the process over again from step one if necessary. Allow your child to have personal buy in and manage the plan themselves as much as possible. If things aren’t going well, help them to recognize their responsibility to solve the problem rather than making it yours. Continue to ask questions, teach during the good time and invite them to continue to create their own plan of action.
Remember to be TRU
In order to find the best way to approach the back to school concerns above, it’s important to ask yourself the following 3 questions of applying TRU parenting to the solutions…
- Does how I am acting or interacting with my child TEACH them what I intend for them to learn about this issue?
- Does how I am acting or interacting with my child regarding these school issues build our RELATIONSHIP and make it stronger?
- Does how I am acting or interacting about these issues challenge me to UPGRADE MYSELF, maintain my personal happiness and boundaries, as well as display a healthy model of the principles I’m aiming to teach.
The 3 TRU Parenting questions above help us to build a principled, value based template for successfully addressing each of the problems that we anticipate for the school year. By identifying things that may have been difficult for your child in past years, we can be proactive about teaching new skills to help them meet each challenge triumphantly. Let’s join together to help our kids have their best school year ever!
Write in the comments the back to school problem that you are dreading the most.
What school related problem do you anticipate needing help with the most? What advice might you give parents in regard to dealing with the new conflicts that school brings? Let’s create a discussion and resource for parents that will really help us make this the best school year ever.
Don’t forget to download your FREE copy of “5 Jump Starters for Powerful Family Cycles: Creating Happier and More Effective Parenting THIS Week!”