Back to School

Posted by: Asa Don Brown on October 13, 2011 11:09 am

At this point-in-time, your child has probably been in school for two-to-four weeks.  They are beginning to acclimatize to being back in the school routine.  For many children, returning to school ignites insecurities, anxieties, and feelings of apprehension.

For others, they return to school feeling jubilant and expressing great happiness.

Why the dichotomy of emotion? There are many reasons children develop these mixed emotions. For children who are dreading a return to school; it is often one singular negative experience that ignites their imagination. Why would a child allow a singular event to damper their academic pursuits? Children need to feel, experience, and ultimately be included.  Inclusion is the heart and soul of personal acceptance and worth.

What are some of the causations of such dread? Children may avoid or dread school because of a history of being bullied; they may find the academic process personally challenging or overwhelming; they may have failed or performed poorly in a class; they may have had teachers who were focused on their own personal matters, allowing the child to become lost in the academic cycle. 

What is the solution to helping our children avoid these negative emotions and situations?  Parents need to take time-out to talk with their children.  They need to discuss all aspects of the child’s academic, school, and social lives.  Do not avoid talking with children who appear happy or jubilant about school. They can be putting up a positive front. All children need their parents to be active participants in their life pursuits. 

What is the answer to protecting our children from harm? There are no absolute answers to preventing all harm. However, as a diligent parent remind your child that they can always depend upon you.  Reaffirm your child’s goodness, worth, and value.  Reassure your child that you will always and unconditionally love them.

My eldest child, Delilah, asked to be a part of this article. So, I decided to make her an intricate part of it.  We discussed how she was perceiving her new school year, as well as, her likes and her dislikes. We compared this school year to last years. She informed me that last year presented with a few challenges, and that a majority of these challenges were social in nature.  Delilah informed me that she was excited about her return to school, because of an opportunity to be around her friends.  She informed me of her favorite subjects, “math, social studies, and science.” She discussed how her teacher has made the educational experience exciting and something to look forward to.  Most-of all, she informed me that her teacher has shown inclusion in the classroom.

It’s important to have daily conversations with your child. Let me reiterate, parents need to communicate with their children on a daily basis.  Do not reserve your conversations for a time that you have time.  Rather, make the time, even if it is only for a few minutes.  You should strive to spend quality time interacting with your child.  A child’s mind, life, and environment is changing rapidly.  If you delay communicating with your child, you may miss out on an important aspect of that child’s life.

A child’s life is about rapid and constant change. An issue that stresses an adult will not be the same issue that stresses a child.  A young child is less likely to become overwhelmed by income or lack therein, bills, roofs over their head, or where their next meal may come from.  A child is more concerned with events in their present life. They are concerned about relating to their peers, performing well academically, and feeling as though they belong.  In the past, my daughter has expressed concerns around specific dynamics that have occurred within her personal relationships.  Again, I would not have known about these events if I had avoided communicating with my child.  Parents need to provide an open door policy for their child. 

As a child, we learn our social cues from our parents, teachers, religious leaders, and family members.  Therefore, it is important that we help our children to learn the ropes of relationships.  If we avoid communicating with our children, then our children will have learned that it is okay to avoid critical communication.  

How can we prevent our children from having negative experiences in school?  Know your child and be certain to have daily conversations. Be an active participant in your child’s school.  Know whether or not your child is grasping the academic materials being presented.  Discuss with your child’s teacher any concerns that may be presenting. 

As a therapist and parent, I highly recommend that you purposefully have outings with your child.  Be certain that you inform your child that this is their special time.   Again, communicate daily with your child, encouraging and fostering conversations. 

Article Written by Dr. Asa Don Brown, Special Contributions by Delilah Brown

*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

10 comments on “Back to School”

  1. Irene Brady says:

    Hi Dr. Brown,
    I agree wholeheartedly with what you state about the need for parents to keep the lines of communication open with their children. I am a parent of 2 teenage girls and a teacher as well. Three years ago I went on education leave to pursue my MC in counselling which I have now finished. During my first year of study I noticed my daughter was often distraught emotionally. There were a few challenges for her with a female peer and we worked through that on several occasions. However, it wasn’t until the end of the year that I had an ‘aha’ moment RE: her teacher. My child was not feeling well connected and this was her struggle throughout the year. Although I was aware of some of her struggle with the teacher it took me a long time to put my finger on it. My daughter was not securely attached to her teacher and she was unhappy for most of that school year. Of course for me, living in a small town, this teacher was also a colleague. This made the situation a little more delicate. I think my daughter expressed that her teacher was very controlling and often what upset her was not so much how she was treated but how she perceived her classmates being treated. Glad to her Delilah felt her teacher modeled inclusion. As a substitute teacher (wanna be counsellor) when I step into the classroom my first goal is to connect with kids and make them feel cared for and included. Your message is a good reminder.

    Thank you,

    1. Dear Irene,

      Congratulations on completing your MC in Counseling. What an awesome accomplishment. As far as teachers go, we have some that we will absolutely love and adore, while others we wish we could either retire or send packing for other jobs. This is the truth in many school systems and career fields. When teachers offer negativity, a child knows it and feels anxiety in leu of it. Reversely, a child is like a sponge and if a parent offers something negative or anyone else, they are apt to experience anxiety in leu of those feelings as well. Thus, it is important that “we” as parents avoid offering negative messages or experiences, acting as advocates for our children. Whether or not our school system is the type we would love for our children to be experiencing is another story; it is important that we are diligent as parents in the monitoring of our children’s daily nonverbal and verbal communication. Now honestly we all get busy at times, and life may even separate us even for a brief moment from our children; therefore we must prove diligent parents, always trying to connect or reconnect with our them on a daily basis.

      I am also appreciative of your positive comments.

      Thank you for your time and your feedback.

      Warm Regards,

      Dr. Asa Don Brown

  2. Veronica Mandel says:

    I know that my kiddos love school. I have no doubt that it stems from my branching out to my children’s teachers and school administators. As a mother, I take immense pride in my children. It never ceases to amaze me that my children can discover life and joy in the smallest of things. I believe it starts with parents, then expands to teachers and schools.

    Just a mom sharing her perspective

    1. Dear Veronica Mandel,

      Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and feedback. It is important that we harness the positive energy that children exude when living in the moment. As a parent, I too am amazed by my daughters abilities to overcome and prove resilient.

      I am certainly appreciative of your time and feedback.

      By the way, all mothers and fathers perspectives are appreciated and of true value!

      Warm Regards,

      Dr. Asa Don Brown

  3. Tracy says:

    Thank you for all you thoughtful words and inspiring thoughts. I find that parental involvement in all aspects of our children’s lives help fuel the positive and excited anticipation for all new experiences including a new school year.

    Thank you again

    1. Dear Tracy,

      I am appreciative of your valuable time and warm feedback. I agree “…that parental involvement in all aspects of our children’s lives (will) help fuel the positive…”

      I am sincerely appreciative of your very warm remarks and thoughtful words.

      Warm Regards,

      Dr. Asa Don Brown

  4. Deborah Pickering says:

    Hi Dr. Brown,
    You have provided some good advice and lucky for your daughter that you have the knowledge to participate in open communication. It is yet another skill which is not known of, or has not yet been learned, by so many parents.
    I wish I’d had these skills when raising my child, but then, my parents did not possess those skills either. We are what we know.
    It is wonderful that Delilah is able to discuss her experiences daily with someone who supports her feelings unconditionally.
    I think young parents are aware of these kind of skills so hopefully a new trend in parenting has begun.
    Cheers, Deb P.

    1. Dear Deb P.

      I thank you for your valuable time and feedback. I agree that we are what we know. While our knowledge may be limited, it is not an indication that our parenting is faulty. It is similar to physicians of long ago; once upon a time bleeding and other remedies where considered the norm and staple of medicine, today we have learned many valuable assets, both because of these errors in medicine, as well as, valuable repercussions of these old medical processes.

      As a parent, I know that one day long from now, my children will have exposure to even healthier and better approaches to parenting. It is neither an indication that I was a failure at parenting nor lacking in my parenting skills. It is a simple as this, during my time of parenting I adapted and tried implementing the best approaches of available during my parenting tenure.

      Again, I am appreciative of your time and feedback.

      Warm Regards,

      Dr. Asa Don Brown

  5. Dear Sinchita

    I am appreciative of your support and your very kind words. I agree that we should have daily dialogue with our children, because it does help “…the child expand her/his capacity to think, to reason, and manage their emotions wisely…” When we set out to purposefully communicate with our children; we are unconsciously reassuring our children, building upon the foundations of their self-esteem, and securing their self-confidence. It is vitally important that we engage with our children on a daily basis.

    Again, I am appreciative of your very warm remarks.

    May you have a truly blessed day.

    Warm Regards,

    Dr. Asa Don Brown

  6. Sinchita says:

    As a psychologist and a parent, I support the points Dr Asa Don Brown makes in the article, ‘Back to school’. Dialogue with your child, DAILY, helps the child expand her/his capacity to think or reason and manage their emotions wisely even at that tender age.

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