2 Ways to Make the Most of a New School Year
The kindergartner with backpack on, boarding the bus for the first time.
The grade schooler that gets a teacher that “everyone” says is terrible.
The junior higher who goes to school and has no one in his lunch period he knows.
The high schooler with keys in hand, driving herself to school.
Each scenario, though different, brings a powerful storm of emotion that ranges from fear to overwhelming pride in watching kids enter a new stage of life. It can be stretching to navigate these places, especially when you see your child facing a difficult situation. But, how you respond to such circumstances contributes a very important piece of the education that is available to your family this year.
Consider a couple of actions to make the most of this school season:
Don’t be a “snowplow” parent.
A relatively recent term, a “snowplow” parent is one who gets overly involved and tries to clear the way for the child of any kind of obstacle. While the intention may be right (being an advocate, providing love and support), experts find that this can really do much more harm than good for kids. When parents make a habit of intervening, they rob the child of important opportunities to develop initiative, problem-solving skills, and the confidence that results.
Not getting a wanted teacher, not making the team, friend troubles, dating issues, and school projects are just a few of the tricky spots of kids’ lives where parents tend to get overly involved. Some questions to ask yourself when you feel the urge to snow-plow:
What might my child learn from this challenging situation?
What damage do I cause when I rescue my son from a challenge?
What does my rescue behavior say to my daughter about her abilities?
How can it build my child’s skills and confidence to weather a “storm” of disappointment?
Provide a haven at home
A parent can, and should be, a source of strength and support for a child when dealing with disappointment. Allowing a him to learn to navigate the situation certainly doesn’t mean removing yourself from him as he learns. Stay connected. Ask specific questions about the situation like, “What was the hardest part about not making the team?” or “Was it difficult to see friends who got asked to the dance?” Affirming your child’s feelings as normal can go a long way to provide comfort and strength for him to come up with solutions on his own. Responses like “I can see how sad that makes you” can be very healing for a setback your child has. In the midst of it all, look for ways to encourage and express your confidence in her to work this through. “You are such a problem-solver.” “I know you’re going to figure this out!”, and “Be brave” are words that create strength in the spirit of any person, let alone a child.
My son had a challenging year last year with his teacher that called for many prayers for wisdom on our behalf as parents. There were numerous times I wanted to step in and clear the way for “easier” circumstances for him. Fortunately, my husband and I were able to keep our eyes on the ball of developing his confidence, character, and independence and resisted the urge to rescue. In the process, we often wondered, “are we doing the right thing?” During the summer we had a meaningful discussion with our boy about all that happened and what, if anything, he learned from the situation. I saw his shoulders straighten, a big grin stretch across his face, and a confident laugh come out as he expressed, “I learned to deal with it.”
A pretty good lesson in our family book.
Family Coach Michelle Klavohn holds over 20 years in the field of Human Development. With a Master’s degree in Communication and 10 years as a Communication Educator, she equips families to close the gap between the family they dream of and the family they experience each day. She passionately pursues her vision to partner with families who want to thrive!