July is National Minority Mental Health Awareness MonthJuly 2, 2018
National Coming OutOctober 1, 2018
As the school year has started for some and right around the corner for others, here are some tips (based on what I see a lot of in my practice), to help your child (and you) have a more successful school year. Hopefully, it’ll help some of you. Just making this list even helped me and reminded me to “check” myself and my parenting.
- Waking up and getting ready for school in the morning can be hectic and chaotic. However, there are some things that can be done to decrease that, so you and your child, can have a pleasant start to the day. Things can run a lot smoother, if you and your child prepare for the next day, the night before. This can be taking showers, picking out clothes and ironing them, packing book bags, etc. the night before. Also, waking your child up early enough for the amount of time that they usually take (and need) to get ready in the morning, not for the amount of time that you think they should need to get ready in the morning. You, the parent, may also want to wake up before your child, for you to do the things that you need to do, to get yourself ready for the day. Doing all of this can decrease having to rush (and possibly fuss) in the mornings. You can help set the mood for the entire day and help have a better day, if you and your child are not rushing out of the house and yelling at each other.
- Do NOT expect your child to be perfect! We all make mistakes and no one is perfect or will excel in everything. Of course, always encourage your child to try their best, but sometimes their best, is still a C on a Math test or a report card or last place in a race! Also remember, you are not your child and your child isn’t you! Just because something worked on you as a child or done to you as a child (and you’re successful, despite of it) or worked on one of your other children, doesn’t mean it’ll work on your child. Everyone and every child is different!
- If you’re able to, volunteer and be active at your child’s school. Your child loves it and it makes a difference on you and your child’s experience at the school. When teachers and staff see you volunteering and being active at your child’s school, they sometimes communicate with you more regarding any possible challenges they may be having with your child (especially when you are communicating back with them, and they can see the difference or changes made, when they communicate with you). Also, remember that volunteering and being active at your child’s school doesn’t always have to be directly at the school. Sometimes there are things that can be done at home, such as volunteering on the Box Tops Committee.
- A lot of your children are playing video games that they really should NOT be playing! A young child shouldn’t be playing rated M games! Often times, parents don’t realize the ratings on the games or they are aware of the ratings and still choose to allow their young child to play the game. Also, if you didn’t buy the game and someone else bought it, YOU are the parent. So, take the game away and don’t allow your child to play it (and politely ask that person not to purchase those type of games for your child again in the future)! Many young children who play rated M games (or even see their parent playing those games regularly) are often more aggressive (verbally and physically). I am not saying that parents shouldn’t play those games, but it’s probably better to play those games when your child isn’t around. Your child sometimes plays those games on your phone or at the other parent’s house (and they know they shouldn’t do it because they tell me not to tell the other parent) or at a friend’s house. So, you can only do so much, however, it may be a good idea to remind your child of your rules and expectations. You can also speak to their friend’s parent of the house they are going to and explain your rules for your child. All of this also applies to some YouTube videos, tv shows, and movies!
- Say what you mean and follow through with consequences (and set realistic and age appropriate consequences)! The consequences also need to be appropriate for the offense. Children know if you’re the parent that don’t follow through or if they beg you enough, you’ll give in! However, if you make a mistake with the above and have given an excessive or inappropriate consequence, then admit your fault to your child (apologize), and alter or take away that consequence (I’ve even done this with my own child).
- Spend quality time with your child! Get off the phone! Get off of Facebook or whatever social media page that you’re on! Stop watching tv or playing your video game! Take a break from doing your work or practice better time management! Personally, I recently changed from doing everything by paper to electronic health records to run my practice. I’ve also changed the way that I schedule my appointments to include a very quick break to complete my progress notes. These changes have allowed me to have more time for myself and family because I have less work to bring home. Play a game with your child. Take your child on an outing. Read to your child. You can have a weekly family “movie night” or “game night”. Trust me, I’m “always” tired, but I know the importance of doing these things and children love and appreciate it.
- I know every child doesn’t come from a two-parent household, but for the ones who do, try not to argue or undermine each other in front of your child. Also, parenting can be frustrating, so when one parent is frustrated or overwhelmed or even angry (e.g., yelling, unrealistic expectations, verbally or physically aggressive), let the other parent take over with that particular task, so you can go take a break, relax, or just calm down.
- Do NOT talk negatively about the other parent in front of your child! Don’t make your child pick sides between parents or keep secrets from the other parent. It’s not fair to the child and honestly, they DON’T want to hear it.
- Speak positive things to your child! Tell them they’re smart, beautiful, generous, loving, etc. Most importantly, don’t be a dream crusher! Let them believe they can be anything they want to be (with hard work), even if it’s not a doctor or lawyer or some other profession YOU feel is successful or appropriate!
- Lastly, allow your children to be children and let them play! I, sometimes, have to check myself (and my children) with their extracurricular activities and academics, that I (and they) need to relax and just have fun, play, and be a child! You already know, once you’re an adult and have adult responsibilities, there’s no turning back!
Owner/Director of The Journey Counseling Services, LLC
Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Registered Play Therapist-Supervisor, Perinatal Mental Health-Certification, Cultural and Racial Diversity Play Therapy Consultant, and International Speaker and Trainer