It’s Back to School time again! Julius Licata, Ph.D., Director of TeenCentral.Net, offers parents some tips on what to look for as your child returns to school:
- Does your child look excited and can’t wait to get back to school? Great! Encourage them to look for all the exciting things that this new year holds
- If your child expresses anxiety or fear about returning to school, you might want to think back to when school ended for the summer. Was there some frustration? Were they relieved? Did he/she complain a lot about school during the past year?
- If so, sit down and talk gently with your child; do not ignore their feelings but try to understand what they are telling you.
- Assure them that you are there and that if he/she needs you – you have their back.
- Does your child seem lost, unmotivated or frustrated? It might be a good idea to speak with them and ask them what they want from you. Rather than assume we have all the answers, listen to what your child says and try to meet their needs.
- If your child has friends that they have spent time with over the summer, encourage going to school with them. Sometimes all they need is a friend to help them face the newness of change. Remember, change is difficult for all of us – and our children are no exception.
- If you child has a difficult time maintaining their grades, this most certainly can cause some fear and frustration. You can give them a sense of strength and support by letting them know that you will get someone to help them with their work if and when they need it. Always follow through if they say yes to your offer.
- Look for signs of depression and/or anxiety when they come home from school. If your child is not prone to this, yet shows this behavior, dig deeper, first with him/her and then with the school. This kind of support will go a long way to reinforce your promises to keep your child safe.
- If you notice your child seems to be enjoying him/herself before and after school, it is a good guess that things are going well for them while in school – but you shouldn’t take that for granted. It is always important to talk to your child and find out what is going on in their lives. Try to make time at least twice a week for a family dinner and encourage everyone in the family to share and speak openly. You will be surprised at how much you will learn.
- If your child is involved in extracurricular activities at school, try to make as many of them as possible. Your presence is a reassurance that you care and are supportive.
- Most importantly, try to keep an open communication with your child so that there is a freedom to speak freely and know what is going on daily in their life. Remember, the more comfortable the relationship is between you and your child, the less anxiety he/she will fear about approaching you. This is the key to a healthy relationship between child and parent.
This new school year offers many opportunities as long as you are open to learning and growth. Good luck!