Back-To-School Advice

Last year I saw more anxious children who spent way too much time on electronics than I can ever remember. Homework that needed to be completed was an afterthought. So, as I reflect on my experiences with children and parents, I feel confident about making the following suggestions.

1.  Limit your children’s screen time drastically when school starts. Screens can become an addiction for youngsters and adolescents who need to be doing their homework or playing with friends or engaged in creative activities such art, music, or dramatics. Sporting activities cannot be replaced by computer games. Your child may resist and protest in anger and frustration your attempts to put the screens to sleep. You have to win this argument.

2.  Make a household rule that homework is done first. Make clear that how and when homework is completed is your decision and not a negotiable issue. Do not let your child’s responsibilities become a battleground between parent and child.

3.  Don’t over-schedule your child. Too much to do is just too much pressure for everyone; nothing good will come of this strategy.

4.  Find a special time to talk with your child every day about school, friends and special interests that your child loves to explore. Develop a narrative with your child where you tell them what happened in last week’s conversation. This will give your child a sense that what they are thinking and doing is important to you.

5.  Protect your child from family disharmony as much as possible. Children and teenagers worry about their parent’s problems with health, money and work.

6.  If your child needs help with social, educational or emotional challenges, make an effort to find the appropriate support.