As parents, we often forget how overwhelming certain things can be for children, yet with a little planning and discussion, the melancholy and mood swings of our children can be easily managed and directed into positive energy. This is never truer than for the end of summer blues and back to school fears that many children face. Parenting for back to school should not be a struggle and can be effectively managed with the right strategies for your child.
Helping children cope with a change in their schedules and helping them manage expectations of what is to come can be as easy as one last party. Whether you hold a backyard pool party, a milk and cookies get together or an away from home camp out, the central theme of the event should be to celebrate what a wonderful summer your family has had. This is where parents can engage their children about all the unique and exciting activities they participated in this summer. Talk about the trips to the museum, special day events and even just simple pleasures like a family bike ride or a walk to the ice cream parlor. In this way you can show your children the unique nature of what the summer has brought to their lives. At the end of the event discussing how things will change with the new school year is a great way to start preparing them for a change from the lackadaisical nature of the summer schedule.
In order to let your children understand that they are a part of the process and do have choices, you need to keep them informed about their schedule and planned activities. With busy lifestyles, play dates, music lessons and extracurricular activities planned "for" our children; they can often feel left out and not in control of any aspect of their lives. Keeping them informed about the activities they are enrolled in, the schedule of their lives and giving them small choices can often help them feel empowered, involved and less malcontent about the life choices being made for them. Offer them choices of which day they can take certain lessons or even a secondary choice on their activities will give them a sense of being included.
Sometimes being a great parent is also being prepared for the worst. When our children act out, they often do not let us know the exact angst they are acting out. A lot of the time even they do not know what is truly bothering them. Be prepared during the last two weeks before school starts for signs of depression, aggression or acting out. Understand that it is a sign that your child may have misgivings about the significant changes about to happen to their scheduling and have the foresight to start preparing for it ahead of time. Getting your children involved in the process mentioned above is a start, but also starting the process slowly can also help. Roll back their bed times by 10-15 minutes per night and start instituting back-to-school scheduling so that when school time comes they are not getting up 2 hours earlier than they are used to during the summer. To combat the blues and truly bolster your parenting for back to school, focus on the positives about their schedule that you know they will enjoy.
Take the time to involve your children, throw a fantastic last hurrah and prepare for back to school ahead of time.