The return to school means a lot of things for everyone. For those of you with kids, it's time to start getting up a little earlier (read: half an hour at the minimum) to make sure that they don't miss the bus. For those of you without kids, it's time to start getting up a little earlier (read: half an hour at the minimum) so that you don't get stuck behind the aforementioned bus on your way to work.
For kids, it's a little bit more. It's a time for them to go from what was probably a pretty loose schedule with no real responsibilities outside of a summer job and not doing anything that would get them on the news with the caption, "What were his parents thinking?!" to having a full schedule, a million more adults telling you what to do and how you're doing it wrong (see if you can spot the irony there), Mom and Dad stalking your grades online (well, at least they now have less time to stalk you on Facebook), and real responsibilities to finish chapter 7 of that book and make sure that paper is double-spaced.
We as adults, whether they're parents or not, often forget that we're asking our kids to make such a huge change so quickly. To go from no rules to all rules, from no responsibility to full responsibility, in just a day? That's really rough. Add in all of the social pressures (you'd better not be wearing last year's outfit) and the eternal quest to be cool/fit in, and our kids may have it tougher than we give them credit for.
Of course, kids don't realize that we're the ones that have to bear the brunt of all of those pressures, buy the $200 shoes that "everybody" has (except for, you know, pretty much everyone), and never bring up that cute girl/guy in class but always be ready to hear about it loud and clear as they're flirting or fighting on the phone (even if it's just through text, man, they can tap those virtual keys pretty hard!).
So kids have stresses that come along with the return to school, and we have stresses that come along with their return to school. What's the difference? You're the adult. You set the tone, always, and your kids are always watching. Even when you think that they're up in their room not listening to a word that your'e saying, they are. Your walls are paper thin, as I'll explain in a later post, so have a positive attitude about school. If you think that it's a pain to get up that early for work, then they'll think that it's a pain to get up that early for school.
Talk to your kids about the benefits of doing well in school. It's not just about a GPA or a gold star on a paper; it's about learning life skills and responsibility. Of course your kids already know how important it is to do well in school (measured by not being grounded), but do they know what it feels like to succeed? We as adults get more money if we perform well (or not, but that's a different story), but what do your kids get? Try giving them some sort of reward, and it doesn't have to be financial. Before the start of each semester or marking period, talk with your child regarding what a fair reward should be. Stick to it as you're also teaching your kid the value of a person's word. If it doesn't mean anything to you, then it won't mean anything to them.
In the end, it's all about knowing your kid and giving them all of the encouragement that you can. Being a tiger mom/dad may have been en vogue a few years ago, but there's no greater feeling for a kid than to make Mom and Dad proud. Of course, we can talk more about this if you'd like. Just drop me an e-mail or give me a call. This is tough stuff, and we want this year to start off perfectly.
Remember: Nobody said that it would be easy, but nobody said that you had to do it alone.