*How To Calm Fears, Help Children Feel Confident, & How to Help Your Kids, Adjust To A New School & Social Circles, At Any Age*
Today, let’s discuss a topic that soon will become a reality….BACK TO SCHOOL!! Now are you one of those mommies that count the days, until your child or children return to the classroom? Or do you like having them at home, during the summer time, better?
Me personally, I enjoy my kids around, going on family outings on warm sunny days, BBQ’S and stuff, but I will admit, with the new twins, like many people told me while I was pregnant, and when they were little, ‘You are going to really like the time alone with them, once the other kids are off at school’, and now I see how maybe they could be right, to some degree, but still, I’ll always miss them.
My little one, is still going through the whole sibling jealousy thing (siblings- plural) jealousy thing, so that would be nice to have some time, where I can actually totally mush them up, without having to watch what I say and do, and look over my shoulder. VERY difficult.
However, in our district unlike most, Kindergarten is only 1/2 day, so it’s only gonna be like 2.5-3 hrs worth of school anyhow, which didn’t seem like much for Nursery School, so it’s not the same as a full day, but honestly, they go to school full day for so many years, and she’s still only just turned 5, to me, 6 or more hrs, might be too much for them. Ok maybe just her in general, but what I don’t miss about back to school is shuffling around to sporting events, friend’s houses, and parties etc. The gas bills go through the roof come September
Ok, so how do we prepare our kids for the back to school experience? Well, for the bigger kids, like the tweens and teens especially, there isn’t much they haven’t experienced, they pretty much know the drill, except when they first venture into the world of multiple classes, with multiple teachers, which is a new experience for them, or start in a new school, where they are forced into a new social enviornment.
Regardless of age, even when they reach the highest grade levels in school, you still want to be there for them, encourage, and support them always, as you will read below, but for little ones, it can be especially hard, with the separation issues, and just their young age, and lack of experience, especially socially. Being independent is new to them, so they can be quite anxious, even petrified, to go to class, or start for the very first time, which is natural, normal, and needs to be addressed BEFORE the 1st day, and not after. EXPECT IT. If you don’t end up having the worst case scenario happen, you can breathe a sigh of relief, and deem yourself lucky. This is how I do things. ALWAYS prepared! (Just in case).
I feared school starting in Nursery School, I didn’t want to go, as I clutched on to my mother’s leg for dear life, but then I cried when it was time to leave at the end of the year, so little ones do get used to it. Kindergarten and the lower grades, I don’t remember despising, but by the time you switch periods, what was it, 7th or 8th grade in my day? I was hating it. The physical and hormonal changes were tough enough, much less dealing with multiple teachers, and so many different students, in my different classes. Trying to find your identity, is really hard at the pre-teen age, so this is a tough time, and sometimes grades suffer during this period, for some children. It’s not uncommon.
I got a belly ache beyond compare knowing school was starting soon, but that was because this was a time where I started getting teased, picked on, and severely bullied, so KNOW THE SIGNS of this with your child. You don’t want to raise a bully, but you certainly do NOT want your child bullied either.
I will add a video’vlog’ here, on the subject, so you can look at the signs of both extremes. It’s really very scary and sad, because bullying, can and has, lead to suicide in most extreme cases, and life long, self-esteem issues, in most others affected, and the sad part of it is, long after the bully has forgotten you, and they do forget you, you will never forget them. It’s something that can never be taken back, so educate yourself on this, parents. Know your children, and if they are hurting, they need someone to trust and talk to. Make that person be YOU!
If your child is popular with many friends, chances are he or she may even be looking forward to back to school, so that is a definite plus, but a lot of kids don’t want to go, but they have no choice. You just have to carefully explain, though it seems like forever now, it surely will pass quickly, and they need to learn, just like we all did, to become smart and productive adults someday. They may not fully understand it, but just letting them know, you have also been through it, endured school maybe even with the same anxieties and fears, can be comforting for a child. It’s important that a child not feel alone in their feelings, so whenever you can add a personal story with relevance..DO SO!
What if the other kids don’t like me, and won’t be my friend?
A common fear amongst children from Kindergarten to High School, though most High School kids won’t tell you these fears, like younger kids might.
1. Empathize with your child.
Relate to them, through your own past feelings, fears and experiences. Let them relate back to you. This comforts a child greatly, knowing they aren’t the only one. Also let them know, most every other child, that will be there, feels the exact same way.
2. Rehearse things before school begins.
Even used stuffed animals, as children, to go through certain social situations, to help them to rationalize and cope with different possible scenarios, and make happy outcomes, that can become real outcomes, if need be.
3. Encourage them to be the social butterfly right from the start,
even if they have to initially fake that confidence, the other kids who are shy and quiet are dying to make friends, but are too afraid to confront them, so telling your child to be the one to go out of his or her way to socialize and say ‘Hey want to be friends?’ or ‘Do you want to sit next to me?’ or at recess, ‘Do you want to play?’, is a smart thing to do, because once that ice is broken, kids open up and become great friends, extremely fast.
Some kids are DYING for someone to come and ask them those things, so tell your child being the one to do so, is a sure bet to make some new friends, even if they are scared at 1st to do it, the fear will pass quickly as new friendships are made and built.
What if people don’t think I’m smart or pretty enough, and everyone else is better?
1. NO ONE on this planet is better then anybody else, no matter what their race, size, or sex they are. Let them know this, right off the bat.
We are all created in God’s image and are equally beautiful, smart, and wonderful people. Make sure to always instill the importance of inner beauty, and make your child always feel special, loved, intelligent, and incredible in every way. Self esteem in so important, and back to school is hard, so remember to start building it up early, like from birth seriously, but especially before school starts, give your child many ego boosts, to erase their uncertainties, and insecurities, within.
2. Younger kids, have less of this issue, especially where looks are concerned, that pops up in the higher elementary years, to junior high then high school, and it’s a shame that it happens.
Make sure your child is not being bullied, nor being a bully to others.
If your child is showing signs of being picked on, show your child love and support immediately, and intervene somehow (watch my video), it is detrimental to their life long self worth. BELIEVE ME! I would sooner rip my kids out of school and home teach them, before I would allow them to go through an ounce of what I went through. I’m not talking normal once in awhile ‘Smelly Shelly’, HA HA…laugh quick…joke over, or somethin stupid like that, and yes, I’m making that up, I wasn’t called that, but far worse, I mean serious daily bullying. You should be able to pretty easilly detect the changes in your child’s behavior, as long as you take the time to look.
3. Praise your child’s efforts, in EVERYTHING that they do.
When they take home a nice picture they drew, really go over the top about it. If they get an A on the test, give them an immense amount of pride and recognition for it, because it’s really important for a child to have their parents approval and attention. This positive attention, will really help your child build their confidence for life in school and out, in social situations, and in every day life. Parents have more power then they know, so PRAISE, PRAISE, PRAISE!
4. Prior to ‘Opening day’ at school, review a bit with your child, some of the stuff they will be learning in class.
If they are young, take out some crayons, help them draw inside the lines, as best they can, help them to write their names, and ace the alphabet if not already. For older kids, get some little flip cards, that you can go over, 2+2= 4, or if they are older, 5×5=25. In the summer even the keenest minds can get foggy, after all 100+ days to a child seems like a few weeks to us, but a lifetime to them, so they need you to help them get back into the game before they start school, and brush out the cobwebs.
5. Encourage your child to raise their hand in school (at any age), when they know an answer.
This will give them praise from the teacher as well, and creates a sense of pride in your youngster, having that recognition, because they do look up to their teachers as well, after all, they are the authority figures when you are not around, and also it helps them feel more confident with their classmates. ‘Hey look, I got the answer right. Everybody knows I’m pretty smart’. That is how kids think, so encourage your child to participate in things such as raising hands, and being vocal and social.
What if your child is attending a new school?
Whelp, I have been there. This can be very hard, especially if they are leaving friends they have made behind, and don’t know anybody, where they are headed.
1) Before school starts, take them on a tour of the school if you can.
Show them around inside if possible. The classrooms, the lunch room, gym, library, and where they will play at recess time. It helps to just get a gander, of where you will be spending so much time, before you are simply thrust into the situation, to your child. It makes things more familiar.
2) If you have a similar experience from your childhood that you can help them relate to, certainly share your story with them.
Again, if a child can relate to someone, especially someone like their mom or dad, whom they look up to, it does ease things for them emotionally. It’ll still be hard, but they’ll know ‘Hey you did it, it can be done’.
3) Encourage them on the first day of school to approach people, be social, and invite others to become friends, or eat with them, play with them at recess (as mentioned earlier).
Make sure they know, some kids are just anti-social and some can be quote un quote ‘mean-seeming’, and say ‘No I don’t want to be your friend’, and prepare them for this kind of rejection, so they know it’s normal. It’s not because of THEM, it’s just the personality of the other person, and might just be because they feel uncomfortable and frightened, and that is their way of dealing with things. We all deal with new things in different ways. It’s not a personal blow to them, be sure and tell them that.
The majority will want to be their friend because they are just as scared as he or she is, however you always run into the child that wants to be alone, or already has their own circle of friends, and that is fine, accept it, and then tell them to move on, DO NOT get discouraged.
4. Be friendly & social with other mom’s you meet, starting out on the 1st day of school.
A lot of the friend’s my little girl have, are from me, be-friending the parents, and now they have play dates, etc. You can’t be-friend everybody, but you can be social yourself (even if you get shy like me…suck it up mama, and do it for them..fake it!!), and then while you are talking to little Shelby’s mom, it helps to get your child and Shelby together, and likely they will see you talking with their mom, run off and play together, and friendships can and have been made this way. Even if you are only ‘in school aquantineces’, at drop off/ pick up times, and stuff of that nature, it can really help your child, during their school day.
The Older kids, Tweens & Teens.
These children have even greater social concerns then their younger counterparts, and can be very frightened of the 1st day of school. Friends may not be as readily made, as some social groups are already formed it seems, from day one. ‘Cliques’ we call them, and fitting in, or feeling like you fit in, can be very hard on a child, at this awkward age. Don;t forget to remember how you yourself had felt at that time. Girls experience this more often then even boys, yet both sexes can be affected, by trying hard to fit in, and sometimes feeling rejection. What can be done?
1.Listen to your child. Be there for your child.
When he/she gets home from school, ask them. How was their day? If they say fine, in a solemn voice then run off to their rooms where they spend hours alone, there may be something wrong there, and you will want to dig deeper. Parents usually can tell if their kids are being truthful, and if your gut has a feeling something isn’t right with your child or children, most likely mommy’s gut is right. Don’t ever just let it go.
Kids can be embarrassed about such things at these ages, so you have to tread lightly, and let your child know, you are a parent, but also can be a friend as well, they can feel comfortable telling you what is wrong, and you can help in any ways possible. Again sharing your own experiences, and making you child feel not alone, is very effective. So many changes are going on inside and outside of them at this stage of life, you gotto be careful to not over step, but to keep eyes and ears open..ALWAYS!
2. Watch out for signs of depression:
Loss of appetite, feeling ill before school in the mornings, blasting music, and spending way too much time confined to their rooms, no interest in activities they once enjoyed. Separating themselves from family and friends, grades dropping. Many tweens and teens go through depression, & do do some of these things for a short period, but not to extremes, so you got to look for the signs, and also help them through the crisis that is causing the depression. Be a shoulder, a friendly ear for your child. Build trust so they can be honest with you. This I never had and that is why it is so important now. YES, you gotto be a mom, not just a friend, in their lives, but if you aren’t a friend as well, they will never trust you, and confide in you, and I have been the complete opposite of my own parents, who did things in my opinion, the wrong way, and have had such amazing results. You want respect, but also your child’s trust. You can walk the line without crossing it, it really isn’t THAT hard to do!
3. If your child feels like his or her clothing or hair, just doesn’t make the grade, support some subtle changes.
Admit to yourself, that with each generation, sadly, it gets more and more superficial, so for tweens and teens, clothing, hair, and stuff such as that, that we consider superficial, and won’t be as important after school is over and done, and they are in their 20′s, where cliques tend to fade away, might be very important to them now, and so, let them pick out their own clothing, within reason. Give them a budget though, if money is tight, because kids can SPEND. So note, I’m not saying give your child Juicy Couture, and get a second mortgage to do so…again there is a line there. Just be more open to letting them have their own style, look, and allow them to find out who they truly are. It will change many times, believe me.
People sadly, can often judge you, especially during the tween and teen years, based on outward appearances, until they give you a chance to learn more, about the real you, so let them spread their wings a bit, express themselves through their clothing, and hair style, but nothing crazy over the top. Let a 14 yr old wear a little lip gloss, it won’t kill her, or you for that matter.
Now, having said that, If your 13 year old wants to step out in a mini skirt, and spiked hair, this is NOT what I’m referring to, and that is NOT alright. If they want to wear an ‘in fashion’ dress, and get a body wave, or spiral curls, and that brings them confidence and confidence IS key, then support them in that, and like I said, use your own best judgement, I’m not talking about shaving heads, and piercing bellies. Just help your child find their identity, because that is what is so hard at this age. They will truly appreciate that support and of course, that credit card as well.
4. Encourage them to partake in a sport or sports that are of interest to them.
A lot of times, kids make friends, through extracurricular activities, when guards are down, unlike in the classroom, and kids are having fun, being carefree, and being, most importantly, their true selves, not super cliquey. This can be a great way to have fun, build self esteem, and friendships!
Whelp, that is all the time I have for now. Follow me on Google Connect, by looking at the right hand side bar, of this page. I just put it in there, so I’d love for you to follow me, and I will follow you right back if you do.
Have a terrific day!!
From my living room to yours, this is Shelly, signing off!!