Three ways to help your kids get back to school with a smile

back to school Parents often tell me they want to have fun in that last week before school starts. They might regret trips not taken, summer visions not realized, promises not quite kept. So – it might be amusement parks or beach days or treats or whatever the parents’ fantasy of the ideal summer that wasn’t realized.

Take a breath. Consider telling yourself a different story. And try to see it from your child’s point of view.

Yes, they want to have fun. Fun is an essential ingredient in positive attachments, child development and family life. But it is just one ingredient among other important gifts we give our children that they really need.

They need a “holding environment” that supports them to grow and develop into happy, connected, successful adults. Even if you don’t feel like you are one of those, you can raise children who can grow into just that kind of adult!

Here are some suggestions for making the transition back to school one that will inspire your child to be positive and productive.

  1. Talk with your child over the course of the next week or even after school starts and ask some of these questions:
    • What’s one thing you wished you had done this summer that didn’t happen?
    • What is one thing about the start of school that you are looking forward to?
    • What’s your biggest concern about going back to school?
    • What’s one way you want to be different this coming school year?
    • What is one goal you want to accomplish at school this year?
  1. Call a family meeting
    • Agree on one or two fun things you will do as a family before school starts. If everyone can’t agree, let the kids know parents will make the decision unless they want to try to meet one more time in order to try to come to agreement together.
    • If you don’t already do so, talk together about making family meetings a regular part of your schedule.
    • Make a plan to transition bedtime and wake up time gradually – include the kids in creating the plan.
    • Review day to day family schedule changes and invite children’s suggestions about how to best carry out the schedule.
    • Review chores and household roles – invite children’s input into how you will all contribute to getting things done.
    • Review family rules and see if they need to be updated (or create them together). Ask kids for their suggestions about what kind of consequences will help them remember to follow rules, get chores done and keep agreements. Make sure you understand that you need to follow the rules as well. Make consequences for yourself if necessary. (I did this with my 12 year old daughter and 13 year old foster son when we were trying to reduce sarcasm – I had more consequences than they did!)
  1. Consider your own emotions and needs during this transition
    • Notice with care how you feel about the start of school. What was the start of school like for you as a child? What kind of memories does it bring back? In what ways do these memories drive how you do this with your kids – both positively and maybe negatively?
    • Talk with your partner, a family member, friend or other trusted person about your feelings and needs during this transition.
    • Make a plan to take care of yourself. Remember, in order to have self-control, kids need the ability to regulate their stress (and they do have stress) and they learn that from your modeling and your teaching. Keep in mind our teacher Aaron Weintraub’s suggestion about creating a calming phrase. Mine is often, “I’ve got this.” (No I don’t always believe it, but regular use of that phrase changes how I experience the world and takes my brain back from the brink of that fight-flight-or-freeze place it likes to go!)

Keep in mind that more than anything children want your attention and to feel a positive connection with you. Notice what you are focusing on and what kind of attention you are giving your kids right now. Notice any tendency toward perfectionism. Transitions can be stressful or overwhelming. Stay connected to yourself, your support system and your children in positive ways. That’s what counts the most.

Join us for our live online class, “School Success: Inspire Motivation” which is happening twice this fall – 12 noon, Thursday, 8/31/17 and 8:15 PM, Tuesday, 10/3/17. Register here: https://www.peaceathomeparenting.com/webinar-registration-form/

And remember during these busy days that when you sign up for an online class, you will receive the recording so you can listen later and share with others. Take a breath – You’ve got this!

Blended or Step Family?

happy blended familyI am a stepparent. I am also a biological and a foster parent. Honestly, that stepparent thing was the hardest. I am not even sure why, but I am certain that stepping into the undefined territory of that stepparent-stepchild relationship was one of the hardest things I ever did. And, in the end, one of the most amazing…but not for a very long time. Like years. Like 7 or 8 years.

I met Ben when he was 7 and I had just started dating his dad. Mistake #1 – I met him too soon in my relationship with Joe, but I wasn’t reading every parenting education book published back then. I didn’t even know I was going to become a parent back then, no less teach about it!

Joe told Ben that I was stopping by for about 15 minutes to say hello. We played a brief game called “Life” (I am not making this up) and Joe let Ben win but I don’t remember how. Right then I saw that we had different ways of thinking about children, but Joe was so adorable and charming. Mistake #2 – ignoring what might turn into some big challenges in the future.

About 10 minutes into the game, Ben asked if 15 minutes were up. I had never in my life actually been rejected by a child. I was Mary Freaking Poppins for heaven sake! I told myself I would win this kid over, no worries. Mistake #3 – believing my own delusions!

Ben went on to reject me for a few years – yes, years. He wouldn’t say hello or goodbye unless instructed to do so by his dad, he tended to lie from time to time which made me feel crazy, he refused to eat pretty much anything I cooked and responded to my brilliant, inspired, fantastic gifts (from my point of view, of course) with barely an acknowledgement. And he did this for years. Really.

By the time Ben was a teen, he and I got along well, told each other the truth – pretty much – and as an adult, Ben trusted his dad and I with the privilege of taking care of his first born baby overnight for the very first time. His kids call me Nana and I know that Ben and I love each other even though he remains a bit low key in his emotional expression. We have come a very long way.

When I talk with folks embarking on the role of stepparent I want them to know a few things:

  1. It will not likely be as you imagine it to be. Calling it a blended family might be too optimistic. It is less like blending ingredients in a cake than like a bunch of Italians learning to live with a bunch of Japanese people. Go slow and take time to get to know each other without assuming anything.
  2. Your stepchild or children did not choose this. They don’t want their parents to be apart or worse, for one parent to be gone or deceased. They may see you as the problem. They may want you to disappear. You may never have encountered anyone who felt quite this strongly about wanting you to just not exist. Get support. Talk to friends, family, trusted guides and counselors. You may be able to talk to your partner about this challenge, but he or she may feel divided loyalties and may not be entirely able to see your side. Talk to other stepparents. It is a unique journey for each of us, but there are likely some struggles that you have in common.
  3. Plan one-on-one time for everyone in the family. You need time with your partner. Your stepchild needs time with their bio parent. And you and your stepchild need time together. Don’t be too focused on the happy family picture quite yet. Go slow and do it a little at a time. You really need to carve out your own relationship with this child or children. It is like parenting and it isn’t. Honestly, it is hardly like anything else I ever experienced.

Go slow and keep your eye on the prize – just do the right thing one step at a time. Respect the child’s need for distance if that is what is happening. Accept your own needs for support and perhaps recognition. Teach your partner to appreciate you for your contributions if he or she doesn’t already do that. Focus on what your partner does as a parent that you like and talk kindly about any changes you envision. This may be one of the most important and satisfying relationships in your life and it may take time. Be kind and be patient.

Join us for our live online class “Blended Families: Will it ever get better?”

 

NEUROSCIENCE of EARLY CHILDHOOD

child brain developmentBrain Development and Why Parents Matter So Much

Mon, Aug 28, 2017
10:00 AM – 10:45 AM EDT


PRESENTER: JoAnn Robinson, PhD 

When parents understand the basics of brain development they are not surprised at the creative ways their children learn and explore. Brain development basics helps parents understand what they want to promote and what they may want to avoid in responding to challenging situations. We will explore positive solutions for supporting the development of attention and planning and nurturing a resilient personality.

Participants in this live online class will be able to take away: 

  • Key ideas about what’s important about brain development 
  • Fun and easy ways to support the development of lifelong learning skills starting in the child’s first year
  • Positive parenting solutions for supporting resilience. 

This live online parenting class is designed for parents of infants and toddlers.

Following the class you will be invited to join our private Facebook group in which you will have access to a community of caring parents like you, working to apply new parenting approaches. Our Peace At Home Parenting Facebook community will be a place to share challenges and successes. You will also have ongoing regular contact with Ruth Freeman, webinar trainer, through the Facebook community.

In addition, you will receive access to free monthly “Question and Answer” sessions in which you will be coached in applying the skills you learned in Peace at Home webinars and again you will connect with other parents working to improve skills.

Talking to Teens: Communication for Connection and Safety

Father with Teen - Peace at Home ParentingStudies show that youth who feel they can talk with their parents are less likely to engage in risky behaviors such as promiscuity, using substances, violence, etc. Talking isn’t lecturing and this webinar will strengthen your listening as well as talking skills in ways that will help protect your teens and maybe even save your sanity.

This class is designed for parents of adolescents ages 12 – 22 years old. Following the class you will be invited to join our private Facebook group in which you will have access to a community of caring parents like you, working to apply new parenting approaches. Our Peace At Home Parenting Facebook community will be a place to share challenges and successes. You will also have ongoing regular contact with Ruth Freeman, webinar trainer, through the Facebook community.

In addition, you will receive access to free monthly “Question and Answer” sessions in which you will be coached in applying the skills you learned in Peace at Home webinars and again you will connect with other parents working to improve skills.

Sign Up for Fall Subscription >

Register for this Webinar >

Help Your Child with ADHD or Autism to Cooperate and Connect

PRESENTER: Aaron Weintraub, MS 

Help Your Child with ADHD or AutismWhy does my kid act this way?

Mon, Aug 7, 20178:15 PM – 8:45 PM EDT

register for free parenting class

Many parents try punishment or persuasion to help misbehaving or withdrawn children improve their behavior. This online class will help you achieve the stronger connections and positive behaviors you are seeking.

This live online parenting class is designed for parents of children ages 2 – 12. 

Whether children are acting out or withdrawn, the root cause is often anxiety. Participants in this live online class will be able to:

  • Recognize the need that your child’s behavior is communicating
  • Identify ways your own anxiety may be effecting your child
  • Apply and model self-care methods to reduce anxiety in your home
  • Identify root causes of anxiety in yourself and your child
  • Identify and practice sustainable healthy habits to stay calm and happy

Following the class you will be invited to join our private Facebook group in which you will have access to a community of caring parents like you, working to apply new parenting approaches. Our Peace At Home Parenting Facebook community will be a place to share challenges and successes. You will also have ongoing regular contact with Ruth Freeman, webinar trainer, through the Facebook community.

In addition, you will receive access to free monthly “Question and Answer” sessions in which you will be coached in applying the skills you learned in Peace at Home webinars and again you will connect with other parents working to improve skills.