Can you believe we are already rounding out August and planning for September? It is amazing how fast time goes when you are having fun! I know some of you are getting school supplies, shopping for school clothes, and trying to wrap up the last of the summer adventures. To help keep you functioning, I thought it would be helpful to pass on some tips to for navigating the transition back to school.
Be patient with yourself, your kids, and the process of change. Expecting perfection sets you up for failure. Admitting to yourself and your family that imperfection is a normal part of being human teaches your kids that struggles are ok and manageable.
Start setting a realistic schedule. It’s important to find the right balance between too little structure and overscheduling. Children are better equipped to deal with change when they know what to expect, but they easily get overwhelmed when they aren’t given time to relax and play. Give kids an opportunity to be part of the process. They will be better at following the family routine when they get to help plan it.
Offer choices instead of punishments. These choices need to be determined by developmental level. For example: Kindergarteners need breakfast. A good choice for this age group would be whether or not they want cheese on their eggs. For a teenager it would be appropriate for them to decide if they want to get up early enough for breakfast as long as they get out the door by a certain time. The natural consequences of that choice will help them learn how to manage their time better. Choices encourage empowerment. Limited choices encourage self-control.
Offer emotional support. Sometimes, as adults, we have the perception that children have life easy. We assume they couldn’t possibly be stressed out or worried or anxious, because their lives seem so simple to us. Validating their emotions as part of who they are will demonstrate acceptance and inspire confidence. Safe touch can also be part of validating emotions. A hug or a shoulder squeeze gives kids assurance that they are supported and loved.
Please take care of yourself. There is a difference between selfishness and good self-care. Selfishness is when you do things for yourself at the expense of others. Self-care is giving yourself nourishment so you can give more to those around you. You can’t give what you don’t have. Sometimes that requires that you to ask for help when you need it. Start allowing yourself to be more human and less superhero. Superhero’s are fun to watch in movies, but they aren’t real. Be kind to yourself starting today.
Your relationships with your children are so important. I hope some of these suggestions are encouraging and help your transition back to school be a little less stressful. Wishing you all the success you can create! You got this!