2003-09-05 / Columnists

Health & Harmony

Back To School Parenting
By Dr. Nancy Gahles
Health & Harmony

Health & Harmony

nancy gahlesnancy gahles

By Dr. Nancy Gahles

Back To School Parenting

The beginning of the school year for parents is as stress filled as it is for the children. The lazy crazy days of summer where freedom reigned are over. Parents had freedom from structure. We were able to let our hair down and be less strict with bedtime hours, curfews and structured dinner times. When your children were away at camp, your time was your own. Freedom from rules and regulations is a good way to give yourselves the quiet time required to regroup and mount your next season’s offensive.

The beginning of the school year for parents means that we assess our children’s strengths and weaknesses and prepare a strategy for ensuring a successful outcome. Success is measured in terms of a well-rounded curriculum, one that encompasses the three R’s (reading, writing and arithmetic), as well as the arts, music and athletics. Given the nature of our public school system it is often necessary to provide the last three on your own. This means that parents are now on duty after school hours for scheduling and transporting the children to music lessons, art classes, martial arts, soccer, basketball and those culturally stimulating weekend concerts and shows. And let’s not forget the endless array of birthday parties and school functions.

Success is also measured in terms of the well-being and happiness of your child. Well-being is a function of the integration of the whole child. She/he must be performing well academically, be socializing appropriately, managing their time and studies effectively and always be on hand to help out at home. Too much pressure? Yes, for everyone, but especially for the parents who feel that they have fallen short of the mark when their child doesn’t meet all the criteria for success.

DR. NANCY’S TIPS FOR SUCCESS: Stay focused in the present moment.

*Prepare by discussing ahead of time expectations and weed out the unrealistic ones.

*Talk about strengths and weaknesses and the different ways to accomplish tasks.

*Encourage your child to ask for help. Teachers are professionals who are trained to help you achieve your goals.

*Create space for silence. Make "down time" a part of your daily routine. We all need time without external stimuli. Make a time where there is no more telephone calls, TV, or Internet use. It takes several hours to wind down after a school day and homework. The day of "work" should end by 9 p.m. Allow quiet time to reflect and listen to the voice within. The voice of your own Truth. This allows you to distinguish between right and wrong. To make the judgment calls for yourself not based on what someone else told you, rather what you KNOW is true.

*Proper amounts of sleep for children and adults are crucial to health and well-being. Studies report an increase in heart attacks in women who do not get enough sleep. Children who are sleep deprived often are restless, inattentive and unfocused. This behavior can be confused with ADD/ADHD syndrome.

*Attend orientation and parent/ teacher conferences. Develop a working relationship with your child’s teacher. Let the teacher know that you care and want to be involved in your child’s school life.

*Encourage socialization. Make an effort to know whom their friends are. Invite them to your house or offer to car pool to athletics or other after school activities so you can meet their parents.

*Ask your child what they DON’T like about school rather than "how was school today?" It usually provokes more of a response.

*End each day with a pat on the back for everyone. Give hugs and words of praise. Take the long view. Life is a journey and every day is a day well done if you live it with right intention.

There will be days we dance right through and days we fall flat on our face. It doesn’t mean you’ve failed. It’s all part of the Dance of Life and it’s all good. Just remember, when you stumble, make it part of the dance. Don’t give up! As Winston Churchill said, "When you’re going through hell, just keep going!" It all comes right in the end, my friends.

May The Blessings Be!

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