“Do you have a Band-Aid? Because I skinned my knee when I fell for you.”
As you drop your child off at school on February 14, thank your lucky stars for the genuine kindness of elementary school teachers. The general rule is that a child must bring a Valentine for every member of their class. This is a golden opportunity to talk with your child about kindness and inclusiveness. For arts-and-crafty parents, the holiday is a fun opportunity to break out the markers, stickers, and construction paper and let the creativity flow freely. And fear not parents who are not handy with a glue-gun, Valentine’s Day cards are not graded; your store bought cards are perfectly fine.
Something to keep in mind is that for students with reading and writing challenges, having to write all of their classmates names can feel like an impossibly hard task. Offer to assist your child in a manner that allows him to take the lead. One suggestion is for parents to write the classmates’ name in glue and then have your child sprinkle the glue with glitter. Or type and print the names on labels and have your child stick the label on the card. Keep in mind that the idea is for your child to enjoy the holiday and not for it to feel like it is one more homework assignment. It is fun to add a small piece of candy to your card but if your school has a no-candy policy, possible non-edible treats are stickers, temporary tattoos, pencils, and small party favors.
Pro-Tip: Spread the love by making extra Valentines for your child to deliver to your school’s unsung heroes. Your school custodian, bus driver, crossing guard, nurse and front office receptionist will be truly grateful.
If Valentines Day is causing you stress, let’s talk about it! Please give me a call at 310-849-6751 or send me an email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All my best, Jeri
August is like the Sunday of Summer – bittersweet. I hope all of you had a wonderful summer break filled with fun, laughter and joy. And now its time to think about school starting up again. The transition from the lazy days of summer to the scheduled days of school resuming can be difficult for students.
Some students can’t wait to start school while others are a bit less enthusiastic. The following are strategies that may help your child transition smoothly to the new school year.
1.) Start a sleep schedule that reflects the weekday routine a few days before school resumes. Teens especially love to sleep late so help them adjust gradually by suggesting they set their alarms twenty minutes earlier each day until they are back to their school schedule. Expect a great deal of grumbling and empathize as much as possible – it isn’t easy to say good-bye to summer.
2) Create a family calendar. List each family member’s activities and events as well as holidays and celebrations. Try to stay on top of all the information sent by your child’s school. Write down all important dates and return any paperwork that needs your signature.
3) Schedule a family meeting to re-establish after school routines regarding when and where homework will be done. Also, establish rules about extracurricular activities: who is responsible for sports gear? who is responsible for clean uniforms?
4) Create a summer closure event to end the season on a positive note and celebrate all of the wonderful possibilities of a new school year. Plan a special dinner, BBQ, or activity to mark the event.
5) Assess your child’s feelings about the upcoming school year. If your child expresses feelings of dread about returning to school, this is something to look into further. Schedule a visit with your pediatrician to rule out any physical conditions. The next step is to talk with your child’s school counselor or other mental health professional.
If you are feeling overwhelmed about all that needs to get done to be ready for the new school year, let’s talk! I can offer you strategies to make the transition from summer time to school successful and smooth. Please give me a call at 310-849-6751 or send me an email at email@example.com.
All my best, Jeri
Parents will often share with me that their child relayed an incident that occurred at school that was upsetting for their child. Usually the situation was a friend said or did something that hurt their child’s feelings. Parents will tell me that don’t want to step in too soon to fix the problem and that they prefer their child stand up for themselves. The only problem is: their child is unsure what it means to be assertive.
The concept of boundaries is central to the concept of assertiveness. It is important to talk with your child about assertiveness and appropriate personal physical and emotional boundaries. Teaching your child about assertiveness and boundaries involves teaching children about respect for themselves and others.
A beginning strategy for learning to be assertive and have appropriate boundaries is feeling comfortable using an “I” message. This is a basic format:
I feel ______________________(fill in the blank with a word that describes your emotion)
When _____________________(describe the other person’s behavior)
I want _____________________(explain what you would like the other person to do)
Practice Situation: You are trying to tell a friend something important and another friend keeps interrupting you. I message: I feel______________when_______________and I want_________________________________.
Practice Situation: Your friend demands to copy your homework because she didn’t do her own because she spent all last night watching YouTube videos. You worked really hard on your homework and it took a long time to complete. I message: I feel_____________ when__________________ and I want ____________________________.
Being assertive is a skill that takes practice. But once your child understands what it means to stand up for oneself and has a strategy in place to be assertive, it is becomes easier and easier.
If you would like to learn more about how to teach your child to be assertive, I’m here to help! Please give me a call at 310-849-6751 or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All my best, Jeri
Parenting an anxious child can cause great anxiety for parents! Keep in mind that your child’s anxiety is NOT a reflection of your parenting. But an anxious child can add additional stress to the day-to-day life of a family.
Anxiety is a normal part of childhood and every child will probably go through a phase of mild to moderate anxiety. But when a child’s anxiety causes him or her to avoid places and activities, then it is time to offer assistance to overcome this challenge.
For example: Your child watches a scary movie. A child may experience temporary fear and anxiety causing trouble with falling asleep that night. But, he or she can be comforted that evening and the movie will be mostly forgotten the next day. In contrast, a child who struggles with anxiety will have great difficulty getting past the fear that evening, and will still have sleep issues for many nights, or even weeks, subsequently.
A 2012 study of 200 kindergartners by researchers at the University of British Columbia revealed that a two question test was 85% effective to identify “moderate to severe” anxiety in children. The two questions were:
- Is your chid more shy/anxious than other children his or her age?
- Is your child more worried than other children his or her age?
A “yes” response to either question resulted in an 85% degree of predictability that the child will go on to struggle with anxiety in their elementary school years. The anxiety most likely will present itself in frequent stomachaches, sleep issues, refusal to go to birthday parties and an unwillingness to go on field trips.
The downside to labeling a child as “anxious” is that parents tend to become over-protective. The child’s anxiety becomes a reason for withdrawing from school activities and social events – which in turn can make the anxiety even more deep-seated.
The upside to early identification is that parents can learn strategies to help reduce their child’s anxiety. One such strategy is positive self-talk. So instead of telling your child that, “We are just a family of worriers,” you can teach your child to internalize positive affirmations such as, “I can be brave and confident no matter what!”
If you would like to learn more strategies to help your child to reduce his or level of anxiety, I am here to help! Please give me a call at 310-849-6751 or send me an email at email@example.com
All my best, Jeri
A child is thriving when he or she is making academic progress as well as leading a full and happy life outside of school. One aspect of non-academic life is discovering what your child truly loves to do and providing opportunities for your child to pursue this passion. And just as we teach children how to learn, we need to teach them how to pursue a possible new passion.
To discover a passion, a child needs time to sample an interest as well as work through the challenges that are innate to learning a new skill. Allow your child to choose a non-academic activity that sparks their interest. In addition, ask your child to make an agreement with you that he or she will give this new activity a sufficient amount of time to allow for some mastery of this new skill. Much of the joy of a passion is the feeling of, “I am good at this!” – but that emotion can only be obtained through time and effort.
Parents can create a supportive environment by taking a true interest in their child’s activity. Learn the rules of the sport that your child loves to play or take your child to the grocery store to purchase the ingredients for the fabulous dessert that your child wants to bake. Let your child see that you believe their passion has true value.
Parents should strive to allow their child’s interest to belong to them. Fight the urge to fantasize about how your child’s interest will look on a college application. Remind yourself that your child doesn’t have to excel at their passion – allow them to enjoy what they are doing for the sheer love of it without any preconceived goal in mind. Parental expectations are not a component of your child’s passion.
And if your child’s passion wanes in six weeks or six months, so be it. There are so many opportunities to try something new!
If you would like to talk about ways you can support your child to find their passion, I’m here to help! Please give me a call at 310-849-6751 or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All my best, Jeri