It’s sounding DIFFERENT outside these days. Here in Michigan, early September, I’m hearing a constant hum of crickets all day. As a matter of fact, as I am now writing, with my windows open, I hear them. Falls coming, and I love it!! It fills me with anticipation of new beginnings, of a new school year!! I’m a dork! Even though I only teach one class a school semester, and I only have one child left in school (a college senior), I just LOVE it!! And I am an actual online student, so that counts too! Nevertheless, I KNOW!! Not EVERYONE shares this thrill.
For many, the thought of a new school year can produce dread or anxiety at a variety of levels. This can apply to parents, students and teachers, too. Today I address my parents and teachers with some tips and reminders that will hopefully contribute to a more peaceful mind.
These are all tips that I've had to continually remind myself, too, at one time or the other. I hope you find some that prove helpful, as well. Every day is a gift and that includes school days! Claim it!!
We want our children to develop their own happy voices in the world, to know that their thoughts and feelings matter, that they have ideas worth listening to, ideas to contribute. People confident in their own voice are people listened to and, assuming that quality information issues forth, are also ones that are looked up to and followed. As parents, we have a HUGE effect upon this voice in each of our children. Our influence begins the moment our babies enter this world, but as early as 4 months old, our actions need to be even more purposeful and consistent. As they actually start to verbalize their own gurgles, coos, and laughs and then onward to words, phrases and sentences, parents can give a wonderful gift to their children by maintaining eye contact, positive verbal and visual reinforcement and allowing them the opportunity to speak up in the appropriate situations (even when they do not want to!).
If a person is maintaining eye contact with me as I express my thoughts, numerous elements are reinforced. First, my speech must have some value because this person is paying attention! Second, I feel more amicable with this person, and a stronger rapport develops because he shows interest in me. Third, my confidence increases, giving me a bank of courage to draw from the next opportunity I have for conversation. This all makes sense, right?
So now, think about it! Our parents should be our BEST audience EVER. BUT if THEY are not making eye contact with me as I speak, what then? If these two people, of all the people in the whole wide world, don’t find me interesting enough to pay attention to, then who the heck would? To my way of thinking, NO ONE, so the conclusion could be to STOP talking or to KEEP talking and be obnoxious. This same train of thought can be seen if we ignore the last two elements (positive verbal and visual reinforcement) as well.
Nodding our heads in agreement, leaning forward, smiling, giving short utterances of interest or agreement, are some of the visual and verbal reinforcements we give to people when attending in conversation. Our children deserve the same encouragement as they strive to communicate with us. We must watch ourselves, shouldn’t we? Because we’re human, our impatience to get on with our to-do lists, to make it to the next appointment or to work, can really bog us down and so, without realizing it, we’re FROWNING at our children, as they try to speak with us about a topic of their concern and interest. Now, of course, we can’t constantly give devoted attention 24/7, but we CAN communicate that we ARE interested in what they have to say, but that it will have to happen at another specific time because NOW, “Mom has to get to work.” 😊 And this is another CRITICAL lesson, “The World Does NOT revolve around them ALL of the time.”
Parenting is a strategic endeavor, but believe me, it is WORTH the thought, trouble and effort all making for strong and confident future adults. Take on the challenge!!
Phew! This past week I just got through a very stressful and challenging event with my young adult daughter. She got into an accident (not too bad) with our van on I94 expressway just
leaving Ann Arbor at rush hour. Thank goodness she and the other person were not injured, but my heart went out to her. Of course she was quite shaken up, and frightened. When you are in that state, it’s hard to gather your wits to first, find the immediate things needed (registration, insurance) second, to just keep it together to figure out what other tasks need to be done and
then, to DO them!
Despite the initial tears and confusion, she did GREAT, and I do believe this turned out to be a valuable learning experience on a variety of levels. One was the opportunity to see that she could handle this. My initial reaction was, “I’ll be right there!” but good for her, she declined that type of support. Instead, we stayed in close contact via phone and text, just making sure she took care of all necessary steps. Second, I know this impressed upon her even more that bad things can happen so stay EXTRA alert and EXTRA cautious when possible. Third, she could still drive! She forced herself right back into the “saddle” and drove the van further into Ann Arbor to the body shop. There were no cries for rescue. I met her there, we took care of the business and then I drove us home.
My baby girl looked like a wreck, but she kept going!! She knew that she had to follow up with the insurance and she did!! She knew she had to follow up with her dad, and she did!! That might have been the hardest part of the entire situation for her, but she did it and because SHE owned up to it instead of having Mama come in as referee, it all turned out MUCH more pleasant for everyone.
A big lesson learned on my end was this: Taking care of your young adult child, while it always means that we encourage and give advice, it does NOT mean that we should run to their side and take over the hard part of dealing with the difficult situations that they find themselves in. Allowing them, even insisting on them to deal with the uncomfortable, the scary and the unknown affords them more dignity and confidence in the end.
bout a week ago I wrote an article for parents doing homework with their young children. One of the points mentioned was for the family to have a consistent “Study Time”, no matter what! This is major! Promoting such a tradition and practice nurtures and strengthens the family MANTRA that learning is to be valued at all times, by all family members, every day of the year. It can take away the negative stigma of school requirements, because, hey, this is just what our family does. Every day we take time to read, learn new ideas, do and learn new skills, together as a family……..AND we LIKE it! Or we soon will!!
Whether there is homework that must be completed with your child, or not, here are 10 helpful tips to grow a strong and positive FAMILY Study Time Environment:
7. Allow independent study on projects of interest, as appropriate.
8. Get ideas from all of your children on what types of FUN study projects they would like to pursue together or independently (in the common area) when homework is not an issue.
9. Answer this question, parents! What do YOU want to learn more about? There is knowledge you could pursue in short snippets of time (10-15 minutes) when you’re not needed by the young ones. Look up some recipes you’ve been meaning to pursue, or read an article in the newspaper (current events!) or review foreign language flashcards. Really there is no limit to ideas, just be sure it is interesting and engaging to you!
10.Be Consistent and have FUN! A positive attitude AND daily commitment to the Study Plan will “speak” volumes!! SHOWING and DOING, count much more in the eyes and psyche of your children than yelling and lecturing them about what they SHOULD be doing and getting angry that they’re not doing it. Consistency to the plan will rocket your credibility in the education department to the moon. Don't get discouraged! The joy will come!