Try these tips to help you and your child navigate a successful school year.

Back-to-school is here again and although we do this every year, each year is different. Transitions are hard but not impossible. These tips will help you and your child navigate a successful school year.

Build the right inner voice

Your thoughts and opinions can be a prison for (you and) your child or they can be wings for both of you to soar. Someone once told me that how I talk to my children becomes their inner voice. Be mindful of how you are speaking with your child and also how you talk to yourself about yourself. Speaking judgment, fear and only what’s wrong can hold you and your child back from being all that you were created to be. Let your words and thoughts speak life and give them wings. Transitions can be hard, be mindful of your words.

Here’s how to check it. Would I say this very thing to my best friend’s child, my niece or nephew? And if the answer is yes, ask yourself, “Would I say it the same way or would there be a softness in my voice that I don’t always give to my child?”

Provide opportunity for growth

Transitions are the in-between of knowing what was and not knowing all of what’s ahead. That place in the middle, is where growth happens. Allow the transition to be an opportunity for massive growth for your child, knowing that with growth comes mistakes. In fact, we often learn the most in the mistakes we make. Our children have to learn to hear their own still small voice and make a decision to follow it or not. Give them opportunities to make age appropriate decisions for themselves. When you can, tell your child “It’s your call” before telling them what to do. Ask them, “What do you think?” before giving them the solution to every problem that arises.

To encourage that area of growth, create the atmosphere for it. Ask more questions than you give answers. This can be done in an age appropriate way. Perhaps not with everything but look for moments to invite your child to think for themselves and then let it play out.

Avoid parenting out of fear

Don’t taint their moment with lots of “Well when I was a kid” or “When I went to HS”. When some of us were kids you couldn’t ride in cars with strangers now we have Uber. Stop transferring your trauma onto your child. Your fear of Calculus, your teenage heartbreak, your bad experience is for you to sort through and deal with. If we choose not to deal with our own issues, at some point, we end up parenting out of fear or worse, transferring that fear and trauma to our children. And fear is the opposite of faith. Raising kids requires a certain level of faith that we are doing the best we know to do at the moment. I would often times tell my children, that I reserve the right to get smarter. Don’t parent looking in your own rearview mirror. Parent based on what and who is in front of you, even in the midst of transitions.

Acknowledge moments of gratitude

Choose to come to the other side of this or any transition, by finding gratitude. We won’t be grateful for everything that happens but can you find a place of gratitude in any struggle. Think of it this way, depending on your age, do you remember when kids used to get held back a grade? If you didn’t master 4th grade, you stayed to do it again with the next class of 4th graders coming along. However, I don’t think that happens anymore. But as parents, we don’t want to hold our children back. We should not parent a 16 year old the same way we parent a 6 year old. What should they be doing for themselves that you’re still doing for them? What issues should they be thinking through that you are still solving for them? Critical thinking skills are life skills. They need to do it. They will always need us for something but those things change over time. What can they do for themselves this school year? Release it and give it to them to do.

And here’s the added bonus for you, it’s one thing that’s now off your list, off your mind and off your plate. Our kids can do more than we let them. This school year, let them.

About the author

Deborah Porter

Motherhood is hard but doesn’t have to be. As a sought-after, influential voice on motherhood, my goal is for mothers worldwide to know they don’t have to set themselves on fire to keep everyone warm. Whether sharing parenting tips on Good Morning Washington or in publications like Parents, the goal is to support that woman with exchanging perfect for done by setting clear and healthy boundaries. Remember, done does not have to happen at your hand. Finding your unique balance in motherhood is possible without comparing yourself to others.

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