by Mommy MD Guide Deborah Gilboa, MD
“Back to School!” is everywhere right now! Like it or not (and I know a lot of parents are torn about this), we do have to start thinking about a new set of issues. Here are some tips to ease the shift. I’m going to tackle these by topic and age group, the same way I’ve laid out my new book, Get the Behavior You Want… Without Being the Parent You Hate!
- Toddlers and preschoolers: Kids this age rarely struggle to get up in the morning – usually it’s us parents who struggle! All little ones need is a reminder of the morning routine, so have a few practice runs, when you aren’t time-stressed, so your kiddo can be in the zone before the first real drop-off.
- Elementary schoolers: Head back to school wakeup time and bedtime, and use that early(ish) morning time to do some things your child actually wants to do. This will make motivating them out of bed easier.
- Middle schoolers: Push wake up time an hour earlier than it has been during the summer, then an hour earlier. Do this until you are at least in the neighborhood of school wake up time. Go back to eating breakfast!
- High schoolers: Make a plan this year for wake-ups. You should not be the human alarm clock. Be clear with your child about what you are and are not willing to do to help them get up in the morning and what the consequences will be if they don’t get up. (Remember, you want them to make their morning college classes someday without your help.)
All the fun and relaxation of summer can disappear when a child contemplates the first day of school. And even when our kids aren’t nervous, we often are! Talking and strategizing can help, as long as we don’t project our anxiety onto our kids.
- Toddlers and preschoolers: Most little ones have faith in their ability to make new friends, but first day of school is always easier with some familiar faces. So get a list of kids your child will be with this year and plan a couple of playground meet ups. If you can meet at the school’s playground, it will be even better!
- Elementary schoolers: Don’t leave it all to chance. Encourage your kids to be pro-active about this. Often kids have no control over who will be in class together, but they can hang out with some friends (new or old) in the couple of weeks leading up to school so that first day doesn’t feel so much like jumping in.
- Middle schoolers: Role play, by talking through the most common rough spots – such as finding a seat in math or that first encounter by the lockers. Not every tween or teen will do this, but it can be amazingly helpful to “know your lines” when confronted by someone who makes you really nervous.
- High schoolers: Join a team or group. A unity of purpose or interest can help make new relationships a lot faster than standing with a lunch tray looking for somewhere to sit.
Cue the heavy music. Here are a few things that might help.
- Toddlers and preschoolers: Rejoice, they don’t have any! Of course, if they have older sibs, they may ask for homework, but that is their teachers’ problem!
- Elementary schoolers: Create the space. Where is your child going to do this homework? Get that space ready with a cubby, desk, bulletin board, wall calendar, whatever makes sense to him.
- Middle schoolers: Plan ahead. Often the curriculum is available online, so suggest to your child that she get a head start by getting books a little early and reading a little ahead. That will mean more hanging out and a slightly less shocking work load the first week or so of school.
- High schoolers: Write a contract. If you have patterns you want to avoid this year about homework, be clear now. Decide what is up to your child (timing of work, space, music, etc) and what is nonnegotiable (completion, grades, etc). Link your requirements to privileges your child wants (cell phone, friend time, extracurricular, whatever fits your philosophy). Write it down!
About the author: Parenting expert, Deborah Gilboa, M.D. aka “Doctor G” is a family physician, mom of 4, international speaker, author and TV personality. She developed the “3 R’s of Parenting” to empower parents to raise respectful, responsible, and resilient kids.Her book, Get the Behavior You Want, Without Being the Parent You Hate will be released September 10, 2014 and is available on Amazon.com.