Summer is almost gone and, for some of us, that means back to school for our kids. Whether you are in the season of selecting a preschool, transitioning your teen to high school or sending off your baby to college, it is sure to be an emotional experience for all parties involved. Here are a few tips to help ease into the new routine.
- Name it to Tame It: The proverbial “place your oxygen mask on first before assisting others” comes to mind. We must first tend to our own emotional needs before we can be present for our children. Having an awareness of our own feelings as we enter this rite of passage can help us best support our children. Identifying and naming our emotions about this transition can help usfeel more grounded and also models healthy self-regulation to our children.
- Honor the Rite of Passage: Now that you’ve identified your feelings about this transition, create a meaningful ceremony to honor this new way of being as a family. Come together as a family, create an altar with meaningful objects that symbolize this transition whether it be entering preschool or high school. Then, create an intention that will support you as a family, for example, “our family’s intention is to support one another’s emotional growth with kindness and compassion as we step into this new way of being”. Ask for guidance from ancestors, spirit guides, or whatever has heart and meaning to you and your family. And finally, celebrate! Sing, dance or eat a special meal at your favorite restaurant. Embrace the upcoming transition with hopefulness and dedication to working thorough all the up’s and down’s as a family.
- Identify a Support Team: Familiarize yourself and your child with their school’s community. Having access to supportive adults during the school day can help your child feel safe and give you peace of mind. Create a relationship with your child’s teachers, school counselor or school psychologist. For high school aged students it can be helpful forthem to explore school clubs to foster healthy extracurricular activities and expand their social circle. Encourage them to identify supportive people on campus so they can practice self-advocacy. Additionally, some school campuses have Licensed Therapists or Social Worker’s on campus to support the students, ask your school principal if this is available on your campus should your child need that level of support.
Placing expectations on our children instead of allowing their own natural inclinations to emerge spontaneously may well result in an emotional Grand Canyon between us. As the gap widens, a flood of anxiety will rush in to fill it—anxiety not only for your child but also for yourself.
The pressure we place on our youth to preform and fit in is greater than ever. As parents it is our job to instill values of compassion, empathy, curiosity, emotional insight. We can do this by creating a daily ritual of coming together as a family, slowing down and talking with our children but instead of inquiring “how did you do on that test today?”, ask them “how did you manage your anxiety about that test you had today?”, “what kind of self talk did you use to get you through that experience?”. Take interest in your child’s developing emotional landscape, question their thoughts and feelings about dating and relationships rather than filling in the blanks with your own ideas. And last, but certainly not least, encourage children to have periods of rest, relaxation and stillness; time for them to detach from the pressures of their day and return to a quiet, peaceful place within.
Inspiration and insight for parents from other gifted professionals……