An excerpt from a piece I read this week - Deborah Farmer Kris is a writer, teacher, parent educator, and school administrator. She works on parenting projects for PBS KIDS for Parents and writes about education for MindShift,
Children read our emotions for cues about how they should react. If we express our excitement and hopes for their new school year, they will pick up on this. This was my intention yesterday, as my 6-year-old son and I were snuggling and talking about the year ahead. “I am so excited for all the books you are going to read, all the words you are going to write, all the pictures you are going to draw, all the structures you are going to build, all the math you are going to learn, and all the ways you will become stronger and more responsible. I love watching you grow!”
Remember, whether they are studying in school or at home, your child will learn and grow this year — and that is worth celebrating. Circumstances may not be ideal, but they will learn new skills, build new relationships, and perhaps even grow an inch or two taller. They will grow on the outside and on the inside. As Mister Rogers said, “‘Growing on the inside’ are the words I use when I talk with children about such things as learning to wait, learning to keep on trying, being able to talk about their feelings, and to express those feelings in constructive ways. These signs of growth need at least as much notice and applause as the outward kind, and children need to feel proud of them.”
While we are caring for the “little things” that help kids grow, the “big things” on our shoulders as adults may feel overwhelming at times. If you are struggling with your own emotional reactions, make time to pause, reach out for help, and take care of your needs. As Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, California’s Surgeon General and a pediatrician, told me, “Our emotional wellbeing is the most important ingredient for our children's emotional wellbeing. Self-care is not selfish.”
This school year is going to bring uncertainties and challenges. If you are worried about your kids and how they will bounce back from this time, here’s some hopeful news: according to research out of Harvard’s Center on the Developing Child, “the single most common factor for children who develop resilience is at least one stable and committed relationship with a supportive parent, caregiver, or other adult.” In other words, your care and compassion will nurture their resilience. Just our presence in their lives is a strengthening force.