How to Connect with Your Children
Each school year brings several new challenges for children. The way you communicate with your children influences their attitudes about school and the successes they will have.
When children return back to school after a long break, it is normal to have a little anxiety until they get settled in. It is usually caused by thinking about the unknown factors relating to school.
They may be going to a new school, have a new teacher, and they may have to make new friends. Even if they go to their old school, they may have had challenges in the past with the curriculum, being bullied, or many other unresolved situations.
Reword your questions
As a parent, you need to be there for your children to help alleviate the anxiety they are experiencing. But, instead of asking straight out what they are worried about, think about rewording your question. Ask them what their friends are worried about.They may share more with you if you approach it indirectly.
Visit the school before school starts
Some kids have difficulty with new situations, and may need more help getting adjusted than others. For these children, it may be best to visit the school before it starts and invite a friend to go with them. At least, then they will will be somewhat familiar with the facilities.
Some teachers will meet with students prior to school beginning and give them a little tour of their classroom so they can get an idea what to expect.
Parents can share some of their personal experiences such as what they remember about starting school in a new place. Also tell them stories of the fun things you remember about school and making new friends.
Some children have difficulty making new friends. It would be good to make the teacher aware so that they can arrange a buddy for them to do activities together. That way they will not feel totally alone.
Parents sometimes have as hard a time letting their child go to kindergarten as their child does leaving them. It is up to the parent to help them feel confident. A friend of mine was quite sad that her oldest son was going to go to kindergarten. He became worried about his mother and told her "don't worry Mommy, I will come back from school, and we can spend time together and I will help you." Put on a brave face and give them a big smile telling them how proud you are of them.
One of the biggest transitions seems to be when children advance to middle school. They go from being in only one classroom for the bulk of the day, to going to several classes with many different teachers.
Then again, when students start into high school, with their hormones increasing, their insecurities seem to resurface. At this age, their biggest issue seems to be trying to figure out their own identity. They try to find which group they fit in with.
Their peers become more important. Family should still be important, and it will be if the child is given the love and security from the parents they need, without being overbearing. They may have more relationship problems with friends and family members. Adolescence is usually the time that anxiety disorders are made manifest, some of which may need intervention with a specialist.
Be aware of the child's unique personality. You cannot treat all of your children the same and get the same results. Get to know what sets them off, so you can know when to step in and alleviate their fears, before the problem becomes clinical.
Make time for them
With the number of working mothers and fathers in this difficult economy, it takes extra effort to develop a rapport with your child so they trust you with their problems. If you act interested and try to connect on a daily basis, without getting upset, you will be more successful.
Many times it is difficult for children to verbalize what they are feeling. You may need to approach them when they are doing something they enjoy, rather than when they are stressed, to get the best answers.
Parents should try to play with their children a few minutes each day on an individual basis. Let them take the lead. Do not be judgmental or critical until you have am ample understanding of their feelings about a subject. You can then navigate their child's emotions and prevent behavioral and conduct problems.
If your child is acting out, or has behavioral problems, it could be just the back-to-school anxiety, or it could be something else. If it persists and interferes with their ability to function, you can have your child evaluated by a child psychiatrist. You can even go as a family to have family counseling. The child will usually react positively knowing they are being supported by a loving family.
If they are having difficulty fitting in socially, or having no academic success in their class, you need to catch it early, and try to help them before it affects their desire to go to school.
Establish a routine
If the child knows what is expected of them, they will most likely try to follow your schedule. Making sure they have a study time, meal time, chore time, play time and bed time will help them get in a good routine.
If the child knows where all of their things belong including their backpack, clothes, shoes, books and supplies, they will not be stressed unnecessarily. You can get things prepared before they go to sleep the night before so they will be in a good mood when they leave your home.
You may need to limit television, computers and video game use to help your child do better in school as well as finding time to be with friends more.
Some children need extra help getting ready for school, so it will not help if you are anxious yourself, but speak in a calm controlled way, and be as supportive as possible.
A child will be more likely to succeed if they are supported in their efforts by their parents. Even with all the demands on your time, you need to take time to connect with your school-aged children.
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A Child Psychiatrist, Dr. Gina Kellner has shared some great advice about connecting with children.
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