By Guest Blogger Juan Santos M.S., CRC, LCMHC
As a parent, I am always amazed with the resilience in my kids. They will fall of the monkey bars and jump right back into action. Yet, I think it’s vital for us as parents to do our due diligence. Today, times are a bit different. There is COVID19, the epidemic pushing people to keep a safe distance, sanitize 26 times per day, wear a mask, and now with the vaccinations in place returning life to what it once was. That in itself requires a deep inhale and exhale.
Below are 4 ways to support your child with feeling confident when returning to the in-person classroom.
1. Hold Space for Growth
How do you help your child grow?
Parents can utilize board games as a system for growth. Board games allow space for winning, losing, patience, respect, and other key practices that can help your child transition to the in-person classroom effectively. Taking time to play the game monopoly can be fun and provide your child with space to create immense growth.
Playing the game of monopoly can teach your child to:
~ Learn to practice decision-making as you take turns.
~ Manage money.
~ Learn to practice patience by waiting your turn.
~ Learn to be respectful of the rules.
~ Learn to play physically closer to others.
~ Share materials in the game such as cards or dice.
Monopoly is just one game. There are many others. Work to find games that will help your child improve their confidence.
2. Praising your Child
Praise is kind of like candy. Of course, much healthier. Praise when given correctly, can help your child build confidence, heal, and grow healthily.
Praise can come in the form of providing your child with positive feedback for their actions or behaviors. For instance, “I’m so proud of you for getting back into the flow of school. I’m sure that it’s a challenge to go from seeing your class on a video screen to face to face.”
When your child receives praise, it’s like feeding the reward part of the brain its’ favorite food. Ample research shows that praising helps to reinforce positive behaviors. Simply meaning that when you praise your child, there is a strong chance that your child will continue to engage in similar positive behaviors.
Ways to praise your child:
~ Leave them a note in their lunch box sharing one positive action you have seen.
~ Work to be specific to what you are praising. For instance, praise your child on completing their homework versus a general, I’m proud of you statement.
~ Describe the action or behavior you are praising so that your child can build a connection between the behavior and praise.
~ Avoid comparison praise. This can take place when you are praising one child in connection to their sibling. For instance, avoid the following. “can’t you go to school without worrying that you’ll get the virus? Your brother can do it.”
Practice Journal Writing Together
When it comes to therapy, journal writing is one of the most utilized practices. Simple because it’s awesome!
Keeping a journal can help your child have a safe space to put down their thoughts, feelings, and everyday experiences while building confidence. To support your child with confidence as they transition to the in-person classroom, you can utilize a shared journal.
The shared journal works to give you and your child space to connect in a manner that reduces stress.
Ways journal writing can help your child with confidence:
~ Reduce stress brought on by the day.
~ Focus on what’s important.
~ Write down goals.
~ Write down difficult moments that are easier to write than to say out loud.
Prompts to follow:
~ 5 ways I can be kind to myself.
~ Write 6 positive affirmations for yourself.
~ What happens if you were to fail?
Help your Child Learn to Say “No”
As your child transitions back to the in-person classroom take time to support the child in understanding boundaries and the practice of saying “no”. Learning to say no and to share their thoughts and feelings can directly help them feel confident in the classroom.
A great way to think about learning to say “no” is by developing boundaries. When you think about boundaries, consider your house. Your house has a door. You get to decide what you let into your house and what you do not want inside your house. What you let in serves you. What you do not let in, does not serve you.
Teaching your child about boundaries can help with:
~ Learning to have a “voice” and feel empowered.
~ Creating new self-care skills.
~Creating healthy boundaries.
~ Being in spaces where you feel safe.
Below are questions to ask your child that can help with developing an understanding of their boundaries.
~ What are things that make you feel comfortable versus uncomfortable?
~ What are your physical boundaries?
As you walk away from this reading, I hope that you take with you the skill of awareness in taking time to prepare for the upcoming school year. Great kids have awesome parents. Be an awesome parent by taking time to connect with your child and providing them with the necessary tools and support to be confident!
In case you missed it, Juan also recently shared this helpful blog on TMoM to help with a successful return to school: “Helping Anxious Kids Return to In-Person Schooling.”
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