Back to School

Equip your family for a great school year!

No matter the type of school – preschool, public, private, home-school, or alternative school – the transition from summer activities to educational studies generally has a few bumps in the road for both parents and kids. Because of feedback from parents just like you, we know the following four articles are worth the read to equip your family for a great school year!

Prep Your Kids for a Responsible School Year

6 Ways to Combat Back to School Anxiety

How to Get Kids to Care About School and Grades – Without Nagging

Make the Homework Battle a Win for Everyone!


From all of us at Connected Families, we wish you a school year full of growth, joy and connection!

How to Get Kids to Care about School & Grades

Without Nagging

Over the years, Lynne and I have worked with many families who struggle with the same issues. Time and again, we see how a change in perspective can transform a parent-child relationship from one of tension to one filled with grace. When it comes to school, grades and performance, there is often a minefield of conflict over expectations. Parents often believe that they need to create change in their child to see improvement in work ethic and performance when it comes to grades. The truth is, change best starts with the parent.

How to get kids to care about school and grades

Read on to learn how one mother and daughter set aside conflict and embraced grace for homework success without nagging:

Misty anxiously told me about her seventh grade daughter, Greta.

“Her grades are tanking! She’s sassy and defiant most of the time! I know she is capable of so much more, but she won’t dig in and live up to her potential. I check her grades every day. I’ve withheld privileges, created charts, offered rewards, and constantly reminded her. But it keeps getting worse. Our fights get louder by the day!”

When you’re constantly fighting with kids who don’t live up to their potential, we suggest a new approach, a new fight: the fight of faith to walk in the “fruit of the spirit.”

Prep Your Kids for a Responsible School Year

Getting an education is a tremendous privilege. Most parents recognize that future opportunities are built on many layers of learning that happen during the school years. That’s why when kids make poor choices at school, either behavioral or academic, parents usually get pretty upset. If we are honest, it’s mostly because we think our kids’ bad judgment or irresponsibility reflects poorly on US! But really, their behavior is THEIR “report card” and not ours. As school approaches, take some time to prepare your children to be responsible for themselves this school year.

Prep Your Kids for a Responsible School Year

6 Ways to Combat Back-to-School Anxiety

Lessons for Parents and Kids

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:

6 Ways to Combat Back-to-School Anxiety

What Will Your Child Say at Age 18?

teen girl - "Wow, my parents are so..."

It’s scary to ask your 18-year-old daughter to jot a few words about how she was impacted by her parents. But I did it.

Shelbi leaves for college in a week or so and we are so excited for her. As I write this with tears rolling down my cheeks I can’t fully discern the spectrum of emotions that overflow from somewhere deep inside. I only know that since having kids, time has moved at an alarmingly fast pace when I think about it in terms of years, yet there were days that seemed as if they would never end! I mean, how much Barney and Veggie Tales can a person endure before being permanently scarred?

As our oldest child, Shelbi taught us a lot as we experimented at being parents. From changing her diapers to dropping her off at the wrong bus stop as a first grader to teaching her to drive on Iowa backroads, everything was a growing experience on how to (and how not to) do parenting! As the recipient/veteran of our successes and struggles, I asked Shelbi if she would help give some perspective to all of us as parents before she leaves for college at the end of the month. Here are a couple topics and pointers that stood out for her.

Kids and Hygiene: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

“Honey, let’s go, we’re going to be late!” You sigh in relief as you hear the pitter-patter of little feet running to the front door — only to grimace again as you see that your child’s hair hasn’t seen a comb in days.

What am I going to do? They’re going to be a laughingstock at school… but there’s no time. We’re already late.

You sigh again, this time out of resignation. When will they ever learn to look presentable? you worry to yourself as you slough out the door.

Well, worry no more. Today’s video is for you.

(If you can’t see the video, click here to watch it. Or, click here to see a full transcript of the interview.)

Today’s video is all about hygiene and how to deal with kids who care about it a little less than you do. Here are a few highlights:

What do I do when my kids go out the door looking like a mess?

  1. Remind myself that my child’s appearance is their responsibility, not mine.
  2. Make sure to communicate that I love my child no matter how they decide to look!
  3. Talk proactively with my children to help guide their decisions about how they would like to look when they leave the house.
  4. Support my children as they assume responsibility for deciding about their own appearance.

Want help implementing these principles with your family? Check out our coaching options!

How to Address Bullying: Part 2

Uncommon Thoughts About Bullying

We’ve worked with many bullied kids, and with just as many who did the bullying. They were often the same person. During National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month, we wrote a series of reflections and tips that we’ve found helpful in parents’ efforts to curb bullying in their homes and in the world around them.  We think they will help kids and adults year round!

What if we viewed bullying the way Jesus the Christ viewed the aggressive pursuits of Saul the Pharisee? In the story, Jesus’ followers have been viciously ‘bullied’ by Saul. But instead of going after him with the penal code, Jesus is moved by love to go to Saul – with compassion and vision. Jesus recruits Saul to use his talents for good, for the proclaiming of the Gospel Saul had so vehemently bullied. Saul was so impacted by Jesus’ approach to the bullying that he changed his name to Paul, and became a zealot of Grace. Paul never bullied God’s son again!

What if, instead of defending and seeking “justice” when our kids get bullied, we helped our kids by offering a compassionate response to those who bully them? When our son got bullied, I asked him what he thought the other boy’s life was like. He said the boy plays video games all day long, his mom smokes and yells, and his dad never plays with him. So I called the boy’s dad and invited him down for a friendly game of father/son football. The boy was on my team and my son paired with the other dad. I did everything I knew how to do to affirm everyone and worked especially hard to encourage the boy who bullied. He never bullied my son again.

These are not absolute answers. But we cannot help but wonder — what if?

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How to Address Bullying: Part 1

The Diamond in the Rough of Bullying

This is the first in a series about a thoughtful and graceful approach to bullying. It’s a little longer than usual. Hopefully you’ll see why.

You learn that your child has been bullied at school. Your blood pressure skyrockets. You want justice NOW! “THIS IS NOT OK! I’M CALLING THE SCHOOL!!” An understandable reaction. It is natural to quickly and emotionally defend your child against harm. But to do so is to potentially miss the great opportunity to find diamonds in the rough of bullying.

Don’t get us wrong. We hate bullying and want to do what we can to make it stop. But let’s be honest. The things people typically do to get bullying to stop aren’t working. Just look at our politicians! Look at our justice systems. Look at our juvenile detention centers. Mean talk and punitive approaches are only leading to more bullying.

Even in our own homes, when parents react strongly and try to take immediate control, they may unwittingly add power to the bullying and disempower their children!

Healthy Brain Food

healthy brain foodA baby is born with a brain voraciously hungry to learn; to be formed. Experience is the brain’s food. The brain forms almost entirely based on its diet of experiences.

Whatever the brain is “fed” over its first twenty some years of life (especially the first fourteen years!) forms the basis for for how the child interprets and interacts with the world. During this time, experiences repeated over and over have enormous “feeding” power.

This is why we so strongly advocate the priority of connection – that effort we make with our children to be sure they know and experience our love. Remember those messages of love to our little babies? We say things like “I love you!” “You’re so precious,” and “What a miracle!” These messages – not just the words, but the pleasant experiences that surround them – are brain food. As our children “eat” these messages and experiences of love over the years, they form a healthy view of themselves. When these experiences are repeated often, kids can naturally conclude that they are lovable.