8 Back-to-School Resolutions for Parents
Back to school season is a time of anticipation and often dread for students, but it can be very stressful for parents too. Use the beginning of a new school year to start looking into better habits to carry your whole family through the rest of the year.
Here are eight promises to make to yourself — and your family — to ensure a smooth back-to-school transition.
And for more helpful tips, check out Care.com's Guide to Managing Stress.
- I Promise to Praise Effort, Not Intelligence
An easy way to motivate kids is by praising their effort not their intelligence, says Ann Dolin, an education expert and author of "Homework Made Simple."
"For example, if your daughter brings home an A on her spelling test, instead of saying, 'Wow, you're really smart. You got an A! Great job!' turn that around into, 'Wow, you got an A because you studied so hard for that exam,'" Dolin suggests. "Always tie academic success and good grades with the time and effort students put into their assignments."
Doing so gives kids a healthy understanding of good work ethic and lets them know raw talent is not the only thing valued in our society.
- I Promise Not to Try and Do Everything
While it may be tempting to become a super parent at the beginning of the year, it's generally unhealthy to be so micromanaging and engaged. Children pick up on a lot of signs from their parents, and if you're stressed from trying to do more than you can or trying to do too many things at once, they'll be more stressed, too.
- I Promise to Get to Know My Child's Teacher
Robert Nickell, of the DaddyScrubs parenting blog, says you'll feel better if you feel connected to your child's classroom, school and staff.
"If possible, volunteer for in-classroom activities and field trips," Nickell says. "If not, make a point of stopping by to meet the teacher, writing emails to engage with them and whatever else your time permits. Having a relationship with another adult who spends a large amount of time with your child can help both of you in the long run and is a great way for you to gain insight to your child."
- I Promise to Focus on the Moment Rather Than the Future
Back-to-school season is a time of uncertainty. This can create worry and anxiety for both you and your kids. Consider writing down your worries and look back at them in a few days, a few weeks and a few months. Many times, they don't even come true.
Moving forward, consider that parents, students and teachers put pressure on themselves to have the perfect year, but our imperfections support creativity, innovation and insight. Remind yourself and your child of this often.
- I Promise to Not Do Everything for My Kids
As much as you want to shelter and provide for your kids, you also need to help them grow into independent functioning adults. Parenting expert Bill Corbett, of Creating Cooperative Kids, suggests sitting down with your child "two to three weeks before school begins [to] help him make a list of all the supplies he thinks he'll need for the school year," then "take the child school supply shopping, let him handle the money, carry the hand basket, select the supplies [with parents' guidance] and then pay for them at the checkout."
Check out 9 Tips for Teaching Kids Responsibility .
- I Promise to Pool Resources with Other Parents
Make friends with other parents in your child's grade. There are so many ways you can help each other out. For example, talk about carpooling. It reduces time and expenses for parents as they shuttle students to school and extracurricular activities. Look for parents in your neighborhood who have children at the same school or whose children play in the same little league and invite them to join you in a car pool. This can reduce stress on all parties and give you a little more free time.
- I Promise to Allow my Child to Earn Their Own Grades
Many parents need to resist the urge to correct or complete their child's projects so they get a better grade than they deserve. Children need to display knowledge of what they have been taught and they should be allowed to feel the pride of accomplishing a task on their own. It's OK to not turn in something perfect, and it's okay to fail, as long as you learn something from it. Allow your child to learn these things.
"Homework is just at-home practice of things your kids are learning," says Debra Hansen, an education expert and author of the "Teachers Professional Resource." "Rather than sitting with my kids while they did their homework, my husband and I would be available to answer questions. Then we would take a look at the subject matter and ask questions that helped our children put the information they were studying together into a logical whole."
Find out more about how parents can help kids with their homework with these 9 Solutions for Homework Challenges.
- I Promise to Have a Regular Date Night
Arranging your life around your kids and job is all well and good, but what about your partner? You two need a little alone time too — away from the kids and other distractions — to reconnect as a couple. Planning date nights is a common resolution at the beginning of the year, but by the time back-to-school season hits, who has time. Celebrate the start of the new school year by hiring a babysitter and getting some relationship time with your significant other.
Read about 10 Ways Parents Can Find Alone Time .
By making a few achievable promises to yourself, you'll set yourself, your child and whole family up for a successful, less stressful school year.
Gillian Kruse is a freelance writer in Houston.
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