Going back to school can be a wonderful time, full of possibilities for new accomplishments, activities, and friends. But it can also bring on a lot of worry and uncertainty.
After the first few weeks of school pass, many kids see their expectations falling short of reality. For kids with strong hopes or fears, the start of a new school year can be disorienting or disappointing.
So how can parents help? By helping kids build realistic expectations, grasp reality, and understand what their fears or hopes are grounded in.
Here are some tips from Kids Help Phone counsellors to help your kids transition into the new school year:
First, ask yourself whether going back to school is a problem for your kid. There may be signs that it is. Kids who are having strong feelings about their new school year may have trouble sleeping, may not want to go back-to-school shopping, and may not want to talk about school.
Take time to listen. Start the conversation with an open statement, like, “tell me what you’re thinking.”
Open up their hopes or fears to other possibilities. Ask them, “what if it doesn’t happen that way?” Help them understand that things could turn out differently.
Use things from your kid’s past experiences. Maybe they changed teachers last year. Ask your kid how they handled this change and used their competencies and skills to work out a Plan B. The examples you draw from don’t have to relate to something that happened to them at school.
News stories, after school programs, older siblings, or other students can all influence a young person’s fears. Help your kids understand that not all kids are violent, and not every single kid is doing drugs.
Break down generalizations and big numbers.
You don’t have to lecture kids on what’s bad for them, just let them know how to say no. And that you are there to listen and support, judgement-free.
Find a time when you and your kid are in a good mood before you talk. Don’t start on a negative. Say, “I’ve noticed…” or start with something anybody would hear or see: “I’m not judging you. I just want to understand.”
Respect your kid’s timing. If they don’t want to talk about it right then, that’s okay, as long as you make sure you do commit to having that discussion. You could also write letters, or email. As long as there is an exchange it doesn’t matter how you do it.