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