“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” -Maya Angelou
The start of the school year can be both exciting and overwhelming for parents and students alike. All parents want their children to be happy and feel happy and accepted in all situations, especially at school, a place where children spend a good majority of their time.
Children and teens are often bombarded with daily issues such as bullying, teasing, anxiety and negative self-talk. These things cannot only affect their daily performance in school, but affect their personal well-being as well.
Because children spend a great deal of their time in school, it is of ultimate importance that they can have the skills they need for self-regulation and internal motivation which can lead to success on all levels. Parents can be the most important resource in helping their children acquire the skills they need to succeed.
Here are a few things school counselors want parents to know to help them succeed at the beginning of the year and all year long.
Parents can help their children to be more successful when they encourage environments for open dialogue. Talk to your children and let them know what to expect, the good and not so good. The beginning of the school year can bring forth excitement and anxiety. Children are often excited to interact with their peers, see their old friends again and make new friends. Along with this excitement can be anxiety or pressure to fit in, especially for those who may be attending a new school or transitioning from home-schooling. Children want to be accepted by peers and their teachers. Talk with your children and let them know that they are accepted and loved by you, and that it’s ok to be unique. In an age of heightened technology, social media, and cyber-bullying, let them know that even in school, being different can be cool. When parents highlight their children’s unique qualities, it’s sets the foundation for self-love and acceptance.
Encourage your children to talk about the things they are most passionate about, the upcoming science project or school play, as well as their fears, such as test anxiety, soccer tryouts, or being invited to the fall dance. Children sometimes feel that they have to keep their fears to themselves, but as parents, let them know that having fears is a normal part of life and it is healthier to express their emotions and not to keep them bottled up.
Children are in diverse environments, with diverse people who have diverse personalities. There will be incidents in which they will have to problem solve when they are approached by challenging people and situations. Parents should let their children know that it’s important to maintain a calm head in chaotic situations. Remind them that their response often can determine the outcome. Remind them that violence and anger does not solve conflict, but that a kind response or walking away can solve a problem or extinguish a flame before it turns into a forest fire. Kindness can often make the difference between a conflict and a bigger controversy.
Many students have been a witness to bullying or have been bullied themselves, therefore, parents should encourage their children to share with their teacher or counselor if they have been a witness to bullying. Bullies often maintain their position of control because they are often not reported. It’s important to let students know that they have a voice and their voice does matter. Let them know that sharing this information can help to stop the negative cycle.
Place a positive note in their backpack or lunchbox or any expected place that they might look during the day. These small tokens to show that they are being thought of and can be that positive pick me up that they need to help them have a brighter day.
The school counselor supports and encourages a safe school environment for all students. Let your child know that the school counselor provides a safe space for all. Encourage them to talk to their school counselors when they face challenges or need assistance with academics, personal issues and even planning for future goals such as careers or college.
To learn more about the role of the school counselor, please contact your local school counselor and find find additional resources visit the American School Counselor Association at www.schoolcounselor.org.