This blog is for educational purposes only.
The new school year is just around the corner. As with any new transition in our lives, it evokes different thoughts and feelings in many people.
In my practice, many families have shared over the years that they think that their child needs two to three weeks to adapt to their new teachers, class, and friends. So, they get disappointed when this doesn't happen.
Remember: The transition to a new school year usually doesn’t conclude in the first few weeks. It's more realistic to armor yourself with patience that, depending on your child and family circumstances, your kid might need three or four months to settle into a routine with a new teacher and classmates. In most cases, adjusting to a new grade level requires patience, self-care, consistency in adhering to daily, school, and study routines, and building new skills upon existing ones.
Ask yourself: How do I talk to my kids about the challenges and opportunities this school year offers?
Here are a few tips to open a discussion with your child. You can pick and choose questions and reflections that resonate with you.
For you, as a parent
You can consider the following steps in supporting your children in successfully settling into the new school year.
1. Identify potential challenges that your child or any of your kids is experiencing:
2. Set small goals that are realistic and meaningful to you and your child. Ask yourself:
3. Ask yourself one or more of these questions:
3. Make a decision:
4. Help your child recognize important pillars in their lives that provide stability and nurture their confidence to deal with setbacks. Some of those pillars include but are not limited to …
Help your child recognize that every school year is the same in some ways and different in other ways. Where appropriate, discuss each of these.
For your kids
Here are a few areas you can focus on to naturally and consistently reinforce skill building in your kids:
Make a plan
Create structure and predictability
Deal with anticipatory anxiety
Recall past successes
Focus on small daily successes
Help your child notice and cherish joyful moments daily, using their senses to experience them fully. For example, when you notice feeling excited about an event, happy to connect with a friend, or just feeling good about having a nice day, pay attention to what you see around you, hear, how you move, and remember to breathe. Notice how good it feels to take a deep breath and the pleasure of letting go when you breathe out fully.
Cultivate full presence to show support and patience in helping your child persevere in building important skills.
Help yourself, and your child notice when things work.
Treat yourself and your child with compassion when you both deal with setbacks.
Create opportunities for joyful moments of appreciation of your efforts and small daily triumphs.
Wishing you a successful and fulfilled school year!
Dr. Dessy Marinova
Our book, Parent-Child Guide to Coping with Anxiety, has fun and easy mindful practices to help your family deal with stress and enjoy fully small and big daily events.