5 questions you need to ask yourself before sending your kids off to school
Posted September 25
There are certain things parents can do to help their children have the best possible experience at school. Some are so simple they are often overlooked, yet they can be crucial to your child’s success and well-being. To see how you’re doing ask yourself the following questions.
1. What do I do each morning to show my child I love him/her?
Your morning ritual may be so reminiscent of a drill sergeant that your children have no way of knowing how much you love them. If that’s the case, take a step back. Think of what you could do to send a loving message to your children from the person who they love more than anyone in the world—you. Keep a calm voice and send them off with a hug and a heartfelt “I love you.” If your children leave knowing you love, them they are better equipped to face whatever may come at school.
2. Am I giving my children too much praise?
Sometimes parents are so vested in helping their child have high self-esteem that they overdue their praise. Alice G. Walton, PhD, reports that, “A new study from The Ohio State University suggests that constant – and perhaps undue – praise for our kids’ tiniest accomplishments, or non-accomplishments, may have the unintended side-effect of creating an over-inflated ego. And this can have serious consequences both in childhood and later on in life.”
That doesn’t mean you never praise a child for an accomplishment. It means you do it for things worthy of praise. Gushing praise can cause children to feel like they are better than others, and no one enjoys being around a narcissist. Control your praise. A pat on the back and a sincere “well done,” can usually do the job.
3. Do my kids understand my expectations for them?
Together, parents need to discuss their expectation for their children’s school experience. Once you are united in this, meet with your children and let them know what these expectations are.
For example, children need to know things like what time to get up in the morning, how to do their best in their studies, knowing that homework and chores (like making their bed) come before playtime. Children need to know to treat parents and adults with respect, and to be home for dinner. Family dinner time is important to the well being of your children.
No need to go overboard with too many have-to’s for your kids. Make your expectations few and clear. Then, lovingly, stick to them. Letting your children know what you expect of them can save a lot of conflict. There will be exceptions, but they need to be well justified and rare.
4. Did I express gratitude to my kids today?
Giving gratitude is different than giving praise. It’s a common courtesy that is often neglected in families. When your children do something you asked them to do or some good deed they did for you on their own be sure to notice it and thank them. A simple, “thanks, Charlie, for helping me bring in the groceries,” will do wonders. Acknowledging the good your children do will encourage them to do more good while also showing your appreciation.
5. Did you pray with them before they dashed out the door?
Even though mornings can be hectic, taking the few minutes to kneel in family prayer before they leave for school is important. Hearing you call upon God to watch over them can bring a feeling of comfort to them. At times you may be praying for a certain child by name, asking that he or she will do well on a test or try-out that’s worrying them. This can help them feel more at ease. It’s a calming feeling to know someone “up there” is watching out for you.
When your children hear you thanking God for them and praying for their safety it can figuratively wrap a comforting blanket around them and help them through their day. They can also take turns praying for each other and the family. A simple prayer is all that’s needed.
In a September 5, 2016 Time magazine article, “The Secrets of Super Siblings,” author Charlotte Alter said, “While none of these siblings grew up rich, they were privileged in many other ways. They had involved parents and lots of opportunities, and most saw college as achievable, even inevitable. They weren’t abused or neglected, and none grew up in abject want. They didn’t have an unfair head start, but they were spared some of the most difficult obstacles faced by less fortunate kids.”
This article shows that encouragement and realistic expectations by parents play a major role in the success of their children, even though many of them faced challenges. The truth is, all children face challenges of some kind. Our job is to help them appropriately deal with these challenges. These five question may help you accomplish this for your children.
Gary Lundberg is a licensed marriage and family therapist. Joy is a writer. Together they author books on relationships. See their new .99 e-book "Wake-Up Call: What Every Husband Needs to Know" on amazon.com. Their website is garyjoylundberg.com.