Keeping the Family Battles Out of Back to School

Strategies for parents to keep the peace and set kids up for success 

Back. To. School. Three words that can fill even the most joyful child with dread.

And kids aren’t alone. Parents also can get a pit in their stomach when their thoughts turn to the end of summer vacation. The countdown to the return to classes, homework and exams means more stress for everyone and can strain even the best parent-child relationships.

So how do mom and dad keep end-of-summer stress at bay?

Start with a schedule and a routine.

In a back-to-school post a few years ago, Lori Lite, a blogger, social media strategist, parenting expert  and entrepreneur, said “keeping a consistent lights-out time will decrease bedtime resistance.”.

A consistent bedtime -- implemented well before the first day of school -- can help kids set their clocks and be prepared for the earlier mornings the school year brings. Dragging kids out of bed or rushing to get out the door on time doesn’t set anyone up for a good day.

Making sure you set a bedtime early enough that kids get adequate sleep (some experts recommend at least 10 hours a night) means fewer fights and more harmonious mornings.  

Organization also can be a tool for parents.

Even simple things, like designating a shoe area can help. “... Knowing where to find your child’s shoes in the morning can eliminate crying and minutes wasted looking for them,” Lite wrote.

Being able to find things on the first try can reduce those “where did you last have it” moments and eliminate another opportunity for morning stress and tense parenting moments.

You can serve as a great example of how to handle even the busiest of days. If you are calm and organized, you are modeling the behavior you want from your kids. And if you’re enthusiastic about what your day holds, happily sharing the plans you have for your day, you can model a healthy approach for kids to emulate.

Make sure to schedule some downtime.

A mad dash to school, then practice or piano lessons (even if it is only once a week), then home for dinner and homework and the bedtime routine can be harried or exhausting. Lite recommends having some time, whether it is two days or two hours, when nothing is scheduled -- not just for kids, but for parents, too..

“Use this time to connect with your child. Put your work aside and focus on your child. Take a walk. Step on leaves or crunch acorns as you go,” she wrote. “Tell your child about the day you followed a squirrel with your brother’s camera trying to get a funny photo. These moments are relationship building and provide much needed stress relief for adults and children.”

Most importantly, talk to your kids and listen to them. Ask about school, without a lot of pressure, and listen to their answers and observe their nonverbal reactions. Be supportive, and make sure they know you can tackle any of their fears or concerns as a team.

Back to school can be an anxiety-filled time for families. The best thing you can do for your children is work to diminish fear of the unknown and create feelings of excitement and anticipation. Empower them and empathize with them and let them know their feelings are important, and there is no challenge you can’t face and conquer together.

If you find you need a bit of help developing strategies to help your child as they head back to school and to strengthen your relationship as they do so, check out all of the services we offer or contact us today!