Saying goodbye to the magic of summer can be tough for kids and teens. Yet by helping your child cultivate new skills, perspective and self-esteem before they head back to school, you can set them up for a smoother and more successful reentry.
Put your own spin on these 5 strategies to engage your kids in meaningful ways this summer and all school year long:
Boost their confidence and self-reliance.
As the school year starts up, kids of all ages will be faced with new challenges. By finding opportunities during the summer to let your kids make some decisions and bring their own ideas to life, they’ll feel more comfortable when it comes time to do the same in school.
How to do it:
Try letting your child choose a summer activity and gently guide them through planning it. Whether it’s making their favorite dessert, exploring a museum or planning a picnic in the park with friends, the more active a role the child plays in planning, the more confidence and joy they’ll get from seeing their activity come to life.
For teenagers, take the next step by giving them more responsibility. Whether it’s planning an outdoor activity like camping or hiking, learning to make an amazing meal start to finish, or signing up for an extracurricular activity, encourage them to outline what they need and how you can help. Then, give them support and encouragement while they lead the way.
Help Them Focus and Relax
In a world of technological distractions, the ability to concentrate has never been more powerful. Helping your child discover and improve their ability to focus through activities like meditation or yoga can be beneficial academically and emotionally.
How to do it:
You can start a conversation with your child by calling out a time when they’re really “in the zone” while reading, playing a sport or just playing. Then, you can further introduce the idea of concentration by asking them how they felt when they were so focused on their activity.
Once you’ve introduced the idea of concentration, you can suggest practicing their “focus superpower” together with 5-10 minutes of simple meditation or yoga before bed. By making one of these calming activities part of your nightly routine together, you can help them hone their attention skills and calm themselves down before bed.
With teens, try introducing them to the idea that improving their focus is a way to finish homework faster, improve as an athlete, or reduce everyday stress. If they aren’t into doing yoga or meditating together, you could offer to take them to a class or agree to let them replace one of their chores with 10-15 minutes of one of these mindful activities.
We start teaching our children about other people’s feelings whenever we encourage sharing or remind them to say “please” and “thank you.” To further develop your child’s compassion, try giving them a deeper, more personal look into the value of being generous and kind.
How to do it:
Start simple by talking with your child or teen about clothes, toys or games they don’t use anymore. Then, help them select a handful of items to give away. Be sure to have your kiddo join you when you donate the items so you can reinforce that they’ve done something kind.
If your child or teen becomes more engaged in the idea of helping others, support them in finding other ways they can make a difference. Whether that’s organizing a neighborhood food drive, raising money for a cause they care about or joining you to serve food at a homeless shelter, teaching your child the value of generosity will serve them well for years to come.
Nurture Your Friendship
For parents, it can be easy to forget to come up for air and work on the friendships we have with our kids. By focusing on enjoying time together, you can bring a stronger bond, greater resilience and more trust to you and your child’s relationship.
How to do it:
With children, nurturing your friendship could be as easy as making and sharing their favorite breakfast. Or you could simply leave your phone across the room, ask your child what they’d like to do, and give them your undivided attention for an hour or two.
For teens, try following their lead to find time to hang out together. That could be bringing them a snack and joining them while they watch TV, or catching up on some bills in the same room they’re doing homework. By showing that you’re there and you care without being overbearing, you help create an environment where your teen can feel more comfortable opening up to you.
Soften the End-of-Summer Blues
From a kid’s perspective, the end of summer can feel like the beginning of 9 months of uninterrupted lessons and homework. By giving your child or teen something to look forward to early in the year, you can help their transition into the school year feel less intimidating.
How to do it:
Try setting aside some time for fun on a couple weekend days in the fall. You could team up with some other parents to arrange for a pizza party or let your child choose a movie they’d like to see with a few close friends.
To get teens engaged with an idea like this, try giving them a bigger role in deciding what their fun looks like. They may want a chance to go out for dinner with friends on their own, or be allowed to pick out a new piece of clothing at the mall. Just be sure to agree on guidelines you’re comfortable with up front.
Take Stock of Your Own Stress
Back-to-School is a big transition for kids, but it can also be a stressor for parents. Carving out time for your own meditation or yoga practice can help with feeling tense, and setting aside some extra time to enjoy your kids can make the transition easier.
And for parents who worry about their kids walking home alone, driving to school or being out at night with classmates, Revolar can help give you peace of mind. It’s a small, wearable device that connects to your child’s compatible smartphone via Bluetooth®, allowing them to send you their location and ask for help simply by pressing a button.
Now it’s your turn! What tips or strategies will you use for helping your kids have a better back-to-school?