A Sigh of Relief!

Moms and Dads, it’s time to relax from the struggles of the school year….the lost homework, failed tests, excessive classroom tardies, forgotten projects and alarm clocks that governed our lives for 180 days. Following such a demanding school year, I can sympathize with any parent who wants nothing more than to forget their child’s troubles and aim for something better next year.  That’s called hope and every parent needs it desperately.

HOPE! It gets us out of bed each morning, motivates us to try, to care and to continue sacrificing. When combined with effort, hope is a powerful force, able to propel us to new heights. The key word here is combined! Hope alone has never nor will it ever produce lasting and meaningful change. God is my witness that I hope and pray everyday to weigh less but until I begin to exercise regularly, hope, prayer and a flabby stomach are all I will ever have.

If you wish to bring about changes in your child’s behavior, simply combine your hope with these 4 steps:

  1. Reflect on the behavior (What is the reoccurring problem? forgetfulness, tardiness, dishonesty)
  2. Identify the skill deficit (Is it irresponsibility, disrespect, disorganization, poor time management?)
  3. Think of practical ways to develop the skill (List basic household tasks that can help develop the skill)
  4. Encourage (While learning new skills, children need support and guidance, not ridicule and sarcasm)

Wonder how this works? Simple. Let’s say that your child regularly forgets homework on the kitchen table, lunch in the refrigerator, gym clothes on the bed, or a library book on the floor. This reflects poor planning and organization.  Now that you have Reflected (Step 1) and Identified the problem (Step 2), it’s time to Think (Step 3) of practical ways to develop your child’s ability to plan and organize.  List basic household responsibilities that require planning and organization:

  • cooking requires reading recipes, preparing and organizing ingredients in advance
  • washing the car on a hot day requires planning and organizing materials in advance
  • washing clothes requires separating like colors, planning and organizing materials in advance

Coaching and Encouraging (Step 4) your child while they learn to perform these new tasks is critical to their success. Whatever you do, don’t hand them a skillet and a recipe if you plan to check your email and catch up with old friends on Facebook! Until they master planning, organizing and cooking, you need to remain flexible and keep your schedule as free as possible.

Should you continue to practice these 4 steps when your child experiences future challenges, you will effectively, develop their critical thinking skills while also preparing them with necessary life skills. I believe such an outcome is something every parent should hope for!

Time for School!

Summer vacation is almost over. In a matter of days, it will be time to return to school and ALL the responsibilities that come with it. While some parents are excited, others are dreading what the school year holds. Completing the two dozen forms that come each new school year, asking about daily homework assignments and weekly tests; monitoring grades, emailing teachers….it can be overwhelming. Although most parents and students eventually get used to the rat race and ultimately make sense of it, there are those parents and children who have great difficulty with the home-school transition.

For some, the transition can be a paralyzing experience. Typically, the switch is most difficult for students whose homes lack the structure, high expectations and demand for accountability present within the school and classroom. In these instances, students leave a comfortable home with limited demand and responsibility and plenty of fun and freedom, only to arrive at school to face a completely different world.

In this world, they are asked to care for themselves and their belongings. They are given time limits to complete work, asked to sit quietly for long periods of time, and required to listen and follow every teacher directive….most of which they don’t do at home. As parents, we must both understand and respect the structure that schools provide. However, our understanding and respect cannot stop their, it should translate into action. In our homes, there must be structure: a set time for homework, dinner, play. We should set individual responsibilities for our children to maintain cleanliness, care for themselves and the household. We must see to it that they learn how to establish, keep, and when necessary mend friendships.

If you are a parent who desires to help your child make the home to school transition with ease and comfort, there are some changes that must be made in your home. Changes that help your child understand the demands of the world and their responsibility to one day live up to them as citizens.