Throughout the month of August, Positive Living expert Diane Lang has been offering tips and strategies to prepare for the start of the school year. Now that school is back in session, how do parents and children maintain their equilibrium, keep lines of communication open, and stay organized? Here are seven suggestions from Lang. Share yours in the comments!
Take care of you first.
Lang’s first piece of advice brings to mind the safety procedures walk-through on airplanes. In the event of oxygen loss, flight attendants tell us, we are told to put our own oxygen masks on before attempting to put them on anyone else because if we cannot breathe, we are no help to anyone else. This holds true on solid ground as well! Take care of you, and you will have the strength to take care of others.
“I wake up at 7 a.m. and my daughter at 7:30. That half hour gives me the time I need to wake up and take a shower so I’m refreshed and ready to go,” Lang explained. “This takes away from the crankiness of the morning.”
Make sure each member of the family has their basic needs met.
Challenges amplify when you are tired, dehydrated, and poorly nourished, so make sure basic needs are met. This means making sure everyone begins the day with a healthy breakfast, takes their vitamins, drinks plenty of water, and gets sufficient sleep and exercise.
“Everything will be better when your basic needs are met,” Lang notes.
Be an Empathetic Listener.
Check in with your children during the first few weeks of school to see how things are going and if they have questions or concerns. Lang emphasizes being “an Empathic Listener.”
“Imagine how your child is feeling,” she says. “Always put yourself in their shoes. What might seem like a small issue to you could be a big issue to them.”
Be an Active Listener.
Throughout the school year, ask your children what they did at school every day, and really listen when they tell you. This means stopping whatever else you are doing and focusing on the conversation you are having in the moment. Maintain eye contact, ask questions when you are unsure of what they said, do not interrupt, and think before responding.
Practicing active listening both models for children what it looks like to really listen and also shows that we care about what they are saying and what they have experienced.
Have children prepare for school the night before.
To eliminate morning confusion and rush, Lang suggests, have children set out their clothes and shoes the night before along with their lunch or lunch money. “Both you and your child will feel more prepared in the morning,” she said.
Set up some free time in the morning.
Be aware of how much time it takes you and your children to get ready each morning and leave extra time to avoid the frenzied scrambling that can be anxiety provoking. Lang’s suggestion to include a 10 – 15 minute window of extra time should do the trick.
“I wake my daughter up 10 – 15 minutes earlier and get her ready for school,” Lang shared. “At the end, we usually have 10 minutes or so of free time, which is nice. If she gets preoccupied, the extra 10 – 15 minutes is used up, but either way we are ready on time (most of the time).”
In my case, those 10 – 15 minutes are perfect to accommodate for the inevitable misplacing of my keys and my son’s inevitable misplacing of his shoes.
Set up a school calendar.
“I set mine up on the refrigerator so everyone can see it,” Lang explained. The calendar, she continued, should include the school lunch menu, before and after school activities, who is driving to each activity, vacation days, and any other information that will help eliminate confusion and facilitate planning throughout the year.
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