The school crossing guard asked,“Can I help you cross the street?” It was the first day of school for my oldest daughter who seemed confident and ready for the next step: Kindergarten. But those kind seven words were not meant for her. The question was directed at me. I was crying so hard after she boarded the bus, that she had to gingerly hold me by the arm and lead me in the direction of home.
Will people be nice to her? Will she make friends? Will she like school? Will everything be ok? A crystal ball would have come in handy.
In the absence of a fortune telling device, there are things within a parents’ power to do to help children successfully navigate the social ups and downs of their young school lives. What many don’t realize is that bullying behavior starts as young as 4 years old so let’s begin with some basics.
4 Top Tips:
•. Find a Best Friend
• Take a Breather
•. Develop Resilience Skills
•. Learn how to Listen
Oh. You thought these tips were for kids? These are actually for the Go-To Adults in their lives (that’s you!).
Studies have shown that connectivity is integral to our happiness and success. Make efforts to develop your own friendships among the parents at school. Volunteer at functions and get each other’s contact information. These years should be fun for you, too.
To keep up with the demands of parenting and your child’s school life, self-care is key. The most consistent piece of expert advice to kids from child psychologists and bullying prevention experts is “tell a trusted adult.” The hitch is that being mentally and emotionally present is critical. In other words, we have to“take oxygen first” before we can help our families.
Navigating the Ride
According to Nick Hobson, Founder, PsychologyCompass, resilience is the key ingredient to success. PsychologyCompass’ resilience training is geared towards high-performing entrepreneurs and executives. But the lessons of mental toughness hold true for everyone, parents and kids included.
Kids need to know they can come to an adult for help and encouragement but that depends on good listening skills. According to Youth Voice Project, kids who were bullied reported that the number one most helpful adult action was listening. It can be a life saver.
Favorite Tip: Take a long cleansing breath before seeing your kids after school or when you get home from work. Don’t interrupt them and when it’s your turn, ask them a thoughtful follow up question. (Example:So you told your teacher that the dog ate your homework? Breathe again before you remind your child, But we don’t have a dog. All kidding aside, it’s important to listen without judgement. Next? Say something that makes them feel they were heard before responding and then react so they will come back. Even if they need a course correction, try not to overreact – or just as harmful — under react.
And finally, give yourself a break. A new school experience for young ones is also uncharted territory for parents.
You are not alone. I will be with you in spirit as your children board that bus. May you have a year of laughter, learning, love and a smooth ride.