Welcome back to guest blogger Neil Fellowes, whose last post was Using your entrepreneurial skills to inspire your kids. (You can find out more about Neil at the end of this post…)
Yes, it’s that time of year again.
The children are about to return to school and anxiety fear, tears and the playground dramas are all about to happen.
They’ve had a nice time over the summer – getting up when their body is rested rather than when the clock dictates they need to get up for school. They’ve had a holiday with you and had your attention, played with their friends, lounged in front of the TV and enjoyed some fresh air and freedom.
So it’s little wonder that, for many kids, the slightest mention of returning to school causes them to prickle.
And it’s little wonder…
Think back to their last school year…
Was it a happy year?
For most kids the last school year will have involved being told by a teacher they are wrong, perhaps a telling off, it will have involved a meeting and parting with friends, and an attachment and then then at the end of the school year a detachment from a teacher creating a grieving process at the beginning of the new school year. There will also likely have been a level of bullying or at best teasing from their peers.
For younger kids there is the confusion of what day of the week it is – do I put on my uniform today or do I dress for a day off. They might be made to do activities that just don’t resonate with them – I hated dancing and dreaded Tuesday mornings because of it. I detested break-time in my early years too and clung to my milk bottle for comfort because I remembered some “play-times” where I came off badly from the kids who behaved more like animals being let loose to run the zoo.
For older kids there is the added and often unwanted pressure of constant tests, exams and revision, playground boyfriends and girlfriends, combined quite probably with some very acute hormonal changes.
Of course, school has its pluses too and I’m not dissing school in anyway here, I’m just putting myself in the school shoes of a child and remembering what it can be like, so we parents can empathise with what goes on in the minds of the little people we love at this moment in their life.
It’s true. At a level, as parents, we know what our kids are going through. We went through it ourselves, didn’t we? And we’ve certainly shared a lot of their school pains too as they come home and share them. So many parents will have their anxieties too.
Last week I mentioned to my daughter we needed to get some new school clothes and I immediately saw her shoulder slump and the smile vanish from her face.
In the school-wear shop we witnessed a young boy throwing a tantrum, refusing to try on a jumper, throwing a bag on the floor and screaming. I could the reason in his mum’s body language, she didn’t want him to go to school and he was playing out an: “If you don’t want me to go and I don’t want to go then I shouldn’t have to go drama”.
But the question is how do you help your children through these tough few days at the beginning of the school year?
- Listen and nod your head whenever they talk about school negatively at this time of year. I don’t judge what’s being said, nor do I offer advice or reassurances – your kids will not be interested in any of it and will resist it all. The underlying question they are actually asking is probably “Are you seriously going to send me?” If you offer them advice or placate them you may draw more attention to their anxiety and fuel it.
- When they finish speaking say something like “Oh well.” Then shrug and move on, divert their attention by saying something like “You have nice eyes”, or totally changing the subject.
- Because you have listened, you will know what is a real problem that you need to support them with when they return to school and what was them sounding off or hoping to persuade you to let them have time off.
- Have a daily routine to build their self-esteem and confidence and help your child cope with life.
- When they are back at school, show interest in their education. Consider how you can help them, what are you good at that you can help them with. What about other members of the family? How can you help their education come alive a little more? I love history, so I help my daughter to learn through going to places and seeing historical things. We discuss what we can learn from the outcome of events and how we can use that information to make the world a better place.
- Most of all, be available to your kids to hear how their school days have gone, especially in the first few weeks. And remember to just listen.
Neil Fellowes mission is to help parents with their parenting techniques using everyday situations. He doesn’t create more to-does, but he does help you get results in very gentle and subtle ways through www.hotchocolateclub.com . He also has a superb guide to help you nurture self-confidence in your kids. You can get it from the above website or here at: www.nurturingritualsforchildren.com