Heading back to school can be an anxious and stressful time for kids — and for parents, too! New schedules, new notebooks, new teachers and classmates add up to a lot of excitement and oftentimes, anxiety. All that change can get everyone in the family into a tizzy. One important element to consider is the way in which a parent or caregiver can intentionally help children face the upcoming school year, especially if they are feeling nervous about school. Here are a few proactive tips to help smooth the transition this fall:
Parents often find themselves at a loss when kids are particularly discouraged or struggling.
It can begin to feel hopeless when everything you’ve tried to motivate them past the challenge has failed. You may start to feel more and more disconnected from the child as you know less and less what to do when they struggle.
This is when we get particularly strong about a principle that almost always helps parents find new hope.
Recently we wrote about helping kids value sharing. If your child needs some practice sharing, and you want some practical ideas, consider following in the footsteps of this thoughtful dad:
When our kids hurt their siblings, our sense of justice compels us to punish them. But sometimes punishment is not the best way to teach responsibility and wisdom. Check out this story from Jess:
Any parent reading this loves their children. And most every parent tells their child so frequently. But effectively communicating love is not always so simple. Doing it well means reading your child, and learning to see the expression through the child’s eyes. Some parents even ask, “What do I do or say that makes you feel most loved?” It often takes insight, determination and creativity to package love messages in ways the children can’t miss it.
Could it be that the reason Jesus is so appealing to us, the reason we want to follow him, is that we see throughout the Gospels that he “gets” people?
He knows us. He understands us. He meets us where we are. Hebrews 4:15 states it clearly – “we have a high priest who empathizes with our every weakness.”
Could it also be that, as the people given the job of representing “Jesus with skin on” to our kids, we are strongly called to empathize with our kids in their weaknesses?
“Are we there yet?” “I have to go to the bathroom!” “I want a Happy Meal NOW!” “No, I want Taco Bell!!”
Ahh, the bliss of car-trip vacations. Whether our children are toddlers or teens, the stress of riding in the car together for extended periods can taint the whole vacation. Wouldn’t it be great if we could time-warp ourselves to our destinations? It’s appealing, but obviously not reality. A helpful “truth phrase” for car rides or any other difficult parenting situation is:
Within every challenge is embedded a golden opportunity!
The challenge of car rides together is a great opportunity for connection and teamwork. Here are some practical, simple ideas:
Did you know that one of the most critical times for a parent to affirm a child’s talents is when they misbehave? It’s true. We are all born with giftedness–but even good gifts can get twisted by sin (Romans 7:21 reminds us, “When I want to do good, evil is right there with me.”). The challenge for parents is identifying the “gifts” within the misbehavior; what we call “Gifts Gone Awry.”
Gifts That Have Gone Awry
All talents or gifts can be used for God’s purposes, but they can also be distorted by selfishness and sin and used to serve misbehavior. When this happens, the gift is still present, but it’s gone awry. To punish the misbehavior without affirming the talent behind it may both reinforce the child’s identification with the sin (I’m bad!) and stifle or weaken the talent’s use in honorable ways. It is therefore critical when correcting a child’s misbehavior to also affirm and find a positive use of the gift that fueled it.
Need help identifying the gift behind your child’s stubborness or stealing? It can be tough, but here are some examples of common misbehaviors and some gifts/talents that tend to drive them.
There is no more important time for kids to know they are loved than when they misbehave. If the love message misses them then, they will grow to
believe that love is conditional or earned. People who believe that love is earned tend to rise and fall with their performance, and compromise themselves for approval. Not what we want for our kids.
One way children know they’re loved is if you simply say so, not in a condescending way, but from your heart, right there while your kids are misbehaving. (Sound crazy? Just try it!) But another powerful, perhaps less-well-known way to express love is by expressing understanding, or empathy.
Every parent wants their child to choose good, right behavior. Every family consists of real, mistake-prone people. No one is perfect. How do we teach our children to learn from their mistakes and help them grow up well? Discipline often consists of merely correcting wrong behavior when it should also enable inward, heart transformation. In order to discipline wisely, we must make grace our central principle. The Connected Families framework arises out of the need for effective correction and centers around grace. Read on to learn the four powerful messages that parents have the opportunity to communicate to their children when disciplining them in order to guide them effectively.
We begin by asking the question: How do we help our kids grow into the adults God is calling them to be?
Here are four powerful messages that parents can focus on as Biblical goals when discipline challenges hit the fan. When kids grow to believe these messages are true, their hearts are much more open to their parents’ teaching and discipline.