Despite the fact that it may seem like summer went by in a flash, September is here. This means that many parents are busy helping prepare for a new school year and all the change and excitement that brings. There are class lists, teacher assignments, bus routes and supply lists to be managed. Not to mention updating wardrobes, and making sure everyone has sneakers that fit and lunch bags that will hold up for the next ten months. Simply stated, parents and caregivers are busy getting ready, or at least mulling over all that needs to be done so the school year begins on a high note.
While all of these things are important, it is often helpful to spend some time thinking about the coping tools and life skills your child may need to brush up on and pack up with them as they start the year. For example, some children are facing a large transition this fall. Those moving to a new school or just starting in kindergarten, middle or high school. Typically, there are supports in place to help students navigate such as orientations or extra handholding (particularly for the youngest children just starting off their academic careers). As parents, reminding your child that there are people available to help them is a great strategy. Even going as far as pointing out one or two specific individuals at school they can go to if they need assistance or reassurance can go a long way. For older children, they may seek peer support as well as support from teachers or school staff and taking the time to remind them they have resources available to them is typically very comforting.
Even without a major transition at play, all children will benefit from your vote of confidence that they can handle whatever may come up during the back to school season. Here, if there are specific “growing edges” your child has or things they may need to practice, you can use the few days before school starts to help out. A few trips to a new playground where they will have opportunities to play with new children may help a child build confidence when it comes to initiating friendships or conversations. Allowing your child to order their own sandwich or pay for their snack may help them cope with the lunch line without unnecessary worry.
Another approach is to casually remind your child of a struggle they overcame or dealt with during the summer and express that you are proud of how they handled it. This allows you and your child to acknowledge that things are not always easy and may not turn out as planned, but that they are capable and resilient. These simple tips will help your child step into school in September with the knowledge that they can succeed and the confidence to cope with all the new beginnings coming their way.
Dr. Stephanie O’Leary is a clinical psychologist who specializes in conducting neurodevelopmental and neuropsychological assessments with children (age 2-adolescence). She also provides cognitive-behavioral therapy for children with various attentional, behavioral, emotional, and developmental struggles. She can be reached at (845)-313-9049