It’s always surprising when, in the middle of summer, big-box stores suddenly display stacks of back-to-school supplies on their shelves. They remind us that lounging afternoons with friends and enjoying summer BBQs will soon be replaced with back to school preparations.
For parents Back to School 2015 means getting tighter with kids’ bedtimes and routines, and starting to talk about the upcoming changes that will soon be upon us. Now is a good time to star reminding children about their responsibilities, and preparing for some push-back from kids who want to convince you that the end of summer is still a long way off.
Parenting is different today: modern parents believe kids need guidance and rules laid out in small bite-size doses to protect their self-esteem and emotional health. Today’s kids also feel entirely within their rights to negotiate these rules with you. And as kids get older that’s where you may need help. Perhaps lots of it, because your own parents didn’t treat you that way. You may find you’ve entered uncharted parenting territory.
Raising emotionally stable children in the new millennium is often difficult and can be exacerbated with the multitude of stresses that working parents face. Between kids’ activities and time deprivations across the board, combined with warp speed changes in technology that affect social norms and all family members, the modern world can be pretty complicated.
Don’t be afraid to seek help from a professional psychologist if this all becomes overly stressful and simply seems too much. You are certainly not alone. A qualified psychologist can assist both parents and kids in understanding their family situation and creating harmonious family relationships. Any underlying children’s issues can also be uncovered and treated.
In the meantime, here are a few planning suggestions to help with back to school transitions.
- Make a list of chores to be completed and routines to be established and obtain agreement from all family members regarding them. (But remember, you and your partner are still the uber-bosses.)
- Divide chores into manageable chunks, for example things to be done 3 or 4 items a week
- Develop schedules for guidance – such as homework, other activities, and also family fun times.
- Begin bedtimes 15 minutes earlier each week before the time to return to school and the bedtimes to be observed then.
- Insert pleasant memories about school friends, activities, teachers into conversations, and discuss how they might look forward to the new school year.
- Organizing your time and their time using a planning calendar is also showing your kids that a planned family environment works better.
Kids complain, use all sorts of “logic” to get their way, resist, but behind it all they know that rules and structures show that you care about them and love them.
Dr Eva Fisher is a registered psychologist with training in family and parenting issues.