As I was writing this blog, I asked my son for his thoughts on one thing parents could do to support their children as they go back to school. He laughed and said: “Make their lunch for them every day!” It was then my turn to laugh! I believe that learning to make yourself a filling and nutritious lunch is an important life skill, so although I may surprise him some mornings, at 15 years old he will still be packing his own lunch!
On a more serious note, at this point in my parenting journey, I realise that an honest, caring relationship with my children is the most important thing, especially as they start a new school year.
Talk To Your Children
Take time to talk with your children about their feelings about starting or returning to school. Resist the urge to give any feedback or judgment.
If they don’t have the vocabulary to express their feelings, here are some suggestion
Once your children have recognised their feelings, encourage them to become aware of their needs that lie beneath those feelings. This may be a new experience for both of you! Here are some suggestions for needs they may have:
At this point, it would be great to express your appreciation to your child for sharing his or her thoughts.
Ask them if they have any suggestions to meet those needs in the year ahead. Children often have fantastic ideas that we never would have thought of! Giving them a sense of agency in their own lives lets them know that we value their opinions and trust their judgment. If your children bring up any potential problems that they foresee, chat about ideas they could try in those situations.
Here are some other questions you could discuss together:
- What are your hopes and goals for this year at school?
- Do you have any worries or fears?
- What would help to make you feel safe to come and talk to me/us if you are having difficulties at school?
- How shall we celebrate your successes?
Get Into The No-Fault Zone®
As the year goes by, there will probably be situations that arise where there are conflict, misunderstandings, and upset. This is the perfect time to get out your NFZ Game and use the board and cards to get to the root of problems quickly without blame or shame and discover mutually satisfying solutions and pathways forward.
If you’re reading this, you’re already doing a great job!
Being a parent is a big responsibility and sometimes it can feel overwhelming to have to get it right all the time!
I want to encourage you as you read this - the most important thing you can give your children is your unconditional love and acceptance. When children feel supported without fear of judgment or criticism, their brain relaxes and allows them to handle challenges with confidence. Knowing that they can always come to us, that we are always ready to listen is key. Research also shows us that children who feel loved and supported grow into resilient, well-adjusted adults. Isn’t that what we ultimately want for our Tamariki?