Parenting with Technology

Successfully navigating parenting paradoxes in the technological landscape that is modern life.

Back to School!  Parents, think before you speak.

As the kids go back to school, keep it upbeat and think about your words and their effect before you say them.  The kids are excited to get out of the house, meet back up with all their old friends, make new friends, and experience new things, listen closely to them because they could have some valid concerns about that.  Also, You have spent the whole summer with them and are ready for them to go.  Be careful of how you express that.A few things to remember during this time is that your kids, no matter how little they show it, are very aware and probably slightly afraid of the change that is about to happen. We often assume that they are fine with it, and we skew their conversations with us about it by the words we choose when we are talking to them. Most parents learned early on that we don’t give our kids to much room for decision making when they are young. Because of that, we often carry that on into the later years without realizing it. Example. When dealing with a three-year-old, instead of asking if they want to wear their socks, we ask if they want the red socks or the white socks. They choose one, and boom, we have them wearing socks. In my opinion, there is nothing wrong with this approach, when they are younger. When they are older, however, and in other aspects of life, this approach can be a little less useful. If we ask our child if they are ready for school to start, or if they are afraid of anything, then we are likely to get an answer, however, if we word it differently, we can influence their response without realizing it. Example, You are ok with your new class, right? Or You aren’t afraid, are you? Both of these questions lead with the predisposition that you SHOULD be ok with it.

Another thing that could make this start of the school year harder for your little one is what you say, especially when talking to others about them. I have often mentioned that the children are listening more than we think, so often, in fact, the only way to make sure they don’t hear you say something derogatory is just NOT to SAY IT. How many times have you slipped up swearing only to have the kids repeat you later? This is the same idea only with a much more dangerous effect. I have seen a rash of the internet and social media posts that have gotten tons of attention and views that are negative regarding children. “I can’t wait for my kids to go back to school and get out of my hair” or “We should love teachers because they take care of your kids for you and gods knows how hard that is because kids are terrible.” Now think for a second how that would sound or feel if you heard someone say that about YOU. That is what your kids may be hearing every time you go off verbally to one of your friends or family members about how you JUST CANNOT WAIT for them to be gone. This is a very dangerous message to give to a developing mind.

What is my advice or the moral of this story if you call it that? Be mindful of all your words and how they sound. I am very excited for my kids to go back to school, but when ever I voice that, I make sure that no matter who is around or where I am, that I keep it very positive. I am excited for them to meet new friends or reconnect with old ones. I am happy that they can go and learn and grow and explore more to life than they can at home. I try never to say, (or write, because my kids read…) anything negative about them as they prepare to reenter school for the season. I also talk to them a lot about this new school year, but I don’t lead the conversation. I let them. We talk about their thoughts, their fears, what concerns they have, but we make sure that at the same time we talk about what new things they will gain, how entering a new grade are like “leveling up” and what exciting new things they are thinking about or looking forward to. As grateful as I am for teachers, and as happy I will be to have a few more quiet minutes in my day, I try my best to make this about them, and their achievement and advancement, never my relief or frustration.

Categories: parenting

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