How to mentally and emotionally prepare your kids for school
Here on Word from the Bird, I love to address the mental and emotional side of parenting — check out Parents of Mentally Healthy Children do These 7 Things — and when it comes to your children and school, it’s important we understand what they are up against, and how we can mentally prepare them for what’s to come.
I’m not just talking about their first day of Kindergarten, but rather within each year of attending a new grade, we can to be proactive in equipping them with the tools they need to succeed.
As much of it includes you being apart of their school life — check out 5 Way to Help Your Son Succeed in School, it also includes you becoming aware of what’s happening within their specific grade, culturally and socially.
A middle schooler will be dealing with social and mental issues that are completely different than an elementary or high school student. All the more reason to educate yourself by doing research as to what kids are up against.
If you aren’t already aware, kids are being exposed to age inappropriate content within school premises.
In order to be on top of this, just check out Axis.org for the latest on what teens specifically are up against.
I’m sure you agree with me when I say, I wish I could protect my kids from everything. But we all know, that’s not life, and also not what’s best for them.
My advice is to prepare your children for the world they WILL grow up in, not for the one YOU want them to grow up in. So that’s what we have to do. Not create a bubble surrounding them that keeps all things safe and happy within it.
The idea is to prepare them with good communication from YOU, so that they will be prepared for the world they will eventually face.
Your child will be curious to the ways of life — it’s natural and human.
God equipped us as parents to foster that, and protect them, while also prepare them for the struggles and pain of life. Check out 5 Things Your Child Needs in Today’s Culture.
Along with creating a faith filled home environment for them, we have to teach them to go outside of that environment, yet still live out their faith and make wise choices. That being said, we also can’t expect our children to be adults, or to make decisions that will always be correct.
The beauty of grace, God’s grace through His Son, is that it expects imperfection, yet brings us to repentance. If we teach our children that their mistakes do not define them, we can enable them to be transparent with us, as we are not dependant on them performing for us a fault free show.
How I wish parents would understand this, both within the Christian faith, or among other belief systems.
So many teen suicides are at the hand of us expecting educational and otherwise perfection from our kids. A symptom of our need for them to succeed. As the intention and origin of this desire is not in and of itself ill willed, it will bring your child to ruin.
It will also teach them to please you instead of pleasing God, or even become someone YOU want them to be, instead of who they truly are.
Now let’s discuss further how to prepare you child mentally and emotionally for the school days ahead.
Educate yourself on what they are up against in their particular grade
Like I said, being aware of what’s happening in their school and specific grade is of utmost importance.
By doing this, you can discuss with them ahead of time what they might be encountering. If you need to have “the talk” with them, knowing they will probably be learning it from other kids that year, then do that.
It’s better coming from you, trust me.
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Be someone your kids can talk to about ANYTHING
I understand that even if you do your very best to foster an open and honest relationship with your kids, there will always be a hesitation from our children to share their hearts.
Even though I tell my son he can tell me ANYTHING and I won’t be mad at him, he still hesitates because it might be embarrassing, or because culture has made it out to be something you just don’t talk with your parents about.
But do your best to allow your children to share their heart with you — the good, the bad, and the ugly. When you start young with this concept, it will be only natural as they get older.
Have a relationship with them they feel safe in
Along with what I said about allowing them to be themselves, this also means that you have to meet them here they are at relationally.
If they are at an age where they want to tell you a million times about what they built in Minecraft, then listen attentively. Just because it’s boring or inconvenient for you to be there, don’t let that affect your ability to be their admirers.
Kids SO desire for their parents to admire them, as they admire you. Use your words to affirm them in their skills. Tell them you love them and how proud you are of them. Spend time with them doing things they love.
As electronic devices, teachers, friends, and many other things attempt to influence our children, we need to be first in line to do the influencing. You children WILL be influenced by something. It’s better that it’s first and foremost done by you.
Discuss the temptations they might face during their specific age
The single most devastating act of a parent is to make your child feel shame when they are tempted or do something that is not right.
There are two reactions to discovering your sin — you have a Godly sorrow, that is followed by repentance and freedom OR you feel shame for what you have done, turn inward and hide your sin even better next time.
All the more reason to address a child’s temptation and teach them that it’s not the temptaion that is wrong, it’s following through with it.
It’s not wrong for your teen to be tempted to do something they shouldn’t, but it’s wrong for them to go the extra mile to give in. Then, if they do give in, we need to show them that it’s okay to fail. That they don’t need to feel shame, but take responsibility, and allow them to receive forgiveness from God and move on.
Living in freedom can only be experienced when your children realise who they are in Christ. They are forgiven, redeemed, and can live in that.
If you are being the standard by which they live by, then they will attempt to live by that and spend their entire life trying to please you. But when you can point them to Christ in their victories and failures, they can love themselves better, knowing that imperfection is a very real aspect and beauty of the gospel.
Mentally preparing your child for school has a lot to do with the definition of your relationship with them. When a child’s home life is health, and their relationship with both parents is good, then they can take on the world, knowing you have their back, as well as knowing they are truly loved and accepted by God for who they are.
Build a relationship with your child that is meaningful. It’s NEVER too late.
Also, educate yourself on what your kids are up against in school. That way you can prepare your children fro what they might face, and know what to do about it.