Back To School Transition Tips
If your household went from a fun summer to a more structured school setting over this last month, this topic is for you!
Have you noticed your child:
*Wanting to play more?
*Needing more of your attention?
*Needing more ‘relax’ time?
On our Monday Making Motherhood Easier Show @ihelpmoms on Facebook we interviewed one of our beloved family therapists on the top 5 things we as moms can do to make big transitions like back to school easier for our households:
1. First and biggest tip is to make sure you are paying attention to your child’s LOVE TANK: I was curious how his adjustment to a more academic environment would look like. And from day one he was play starved. Playtime for kids is like a primary language, so as he was adjusting to life around centers at school as soon as he came home I tried to squeeze in more playtime (with me, at the park with other kids, play dates) By helping them meet their emotional needs they will be ready to take on all the changes and growth they are going through!
2. Positive reinforcement is more effective than punishment: Please believe me as a family mental health therapist, when I tell you about the power of shaping and daily reinforcement! If they are getting small doses of positive attention for doing a good job this increases the chances that they will keep working towards those goals. Every kid has something they just love. Use small doses of whatever that is ONLY as a reinforcer. Pick something and make that their special treat when they earn it. Is it TV, a treat, playing a game on your phone? Examples could be 5 minutes of a game on your phone, set the timer, one TV show, a little treat (when using edible treats please be mindful that it needs to be small). In the beginning it needs to be something they can accomplish, as they demonstrate mastery you can move on to make it it a little harder. Don’t judge me, but my kid loves gum. So I’ve told him that gum is a special treat that he gets for doing a great job at school. (Whole Foods has some good options) So when I pick him up from school and find out about his day, he gets one piece of gum. The first two days after school he did great, on the third day he was put on yellow. That day no gum. He cried, he was upset, he tried to negotiate telling me he had bad breath and it wasn’t fair. I stayed calm and just said “I’m sorry you’re upset but we have a deal, you know gum is a special treat for the days you do well.” This leads into my next point.
3. Don’t stay stuck on what they did wrong:FOCUS ON WHAT THEY NEED TO DO DIFFERENTLY THE NEXT TIME. I didn’t pounce on him for getting placed on yellow, I just asked him what he needed to do differently. The more he talked about what he needed to do, the more he calmed down. I was at a play date the other day and the kids got into an argument, as parents we listened first to what they were arguing about and once I saw that the pointing fingers was going nowhere: I asked them what they could do differently next time? Einstein’s quote just captures this concept beautifully for me: “Life is like riding a bicycle ?, to keep your balance, you must keep moving”
4. Use humor every time! Being silly with kids goes a long way. Try and laugh and be silly every chance you get. The moment I had an opening to say something silly to him, we were laughing and on to the next thing. He has been doing great with the behavior chart at school ever since.
5. Instead of threats use challenges: Instead of ‘get your shoes on, HURRY!’ try making it FUN to see how fast they can do it with a count down or tag or high fives to start and end. I quickly realized that I wanted our mornings to be smooth, calm and predictable. Not crazy, cranky and rushed. I’m still working on the not rushed part, but it’s pretty smooth and calm. I actually enjoy it now. Instead of fighting with him about getting dressed, I race him to see who gets dressed first. And it works 99% of the time.
BONUS! One of my FAVORITE things to do as I see my kids needing more time with me now that the school year started, is to set a timer for each child at the end of the night 12 to 20 minutes depending on their age. My kids do not want to read books together. They thrive in getting that special one on one time. I thrive on decreasing the stress of juggling all the kids and when the TIMER goes off, they know it is not mommy, it is the ‘TIMER’ saying it is time to go:) This amazing suggestion was from ihelpmoms.com sleep consultant Laura!
Please remember these tips are not meant to be easy fixes but more so like building a bridge in your relationship with your kids. Try and see what works for you and your family. Just know that it’s about tiny victories and tiny progress, not perfect, not flawless. While you practice some of this stuff you’re gonna have to tweak and make it work for you ?
Wishing you a beautiful week and lots of hugs and kisses with your kids ❤
WATCH our latest episode <a href="http://” data-wplink-url-error=”true”>LIVE HERE and we will see you next Monday at 12:45 pm EST to discuss how to help your kids LOVE learning!
Michelle ihelpmoms.com Founder/CEO and Marcela ihelpmoms.com Family Therapist