Youth are buzzing with the newness of the school year. They carry a certain energy. A bit of optimism that this year will be good, maybe a little different than the last.
When I think of a difference many would like to see, it involves kids being nicer to one another. Giving one another the respect as a human being to just be kind.
I know this is difficult for many kids, especially those trying to find their place. The freshmen, the seventh graders, and anyone new to a school. Sometimes putting someone down in front of the right group of kids could get you in. Get you a little status. And get those kids potentially off your back.
The targets of this behavior tend to minimize. “Its okay. Not a big deal,” they tell other people. But it is apparent how those digs really effect youth. It can slowly chip away at their self-esteem to the point where your kid is doing extra work during break time so they can avoid people in the hall versus enjoying a little work-free social time.
As a parent, it is important to be aware of what school is like for your child. I know many times they might not tell you. Despite this looming fact, you should still ask. Still show you care and you are interested. It might be the day your child really needs to talk. For some kids, it can be difficult to start the conversation. In fact, it can come out twisted. They act angry, irritable, and are out of sorts.
Has someone ever asked you a question and your upper lip tightened and out streamed a few warm tears? You weren't planning on crying and letting it out but there it was. All someone needed to do was ask. Imagine if that person loved you unconditionally and could give you the support you needed. You are that person for your child.
So how do you ask and get a little sustenance? It is an art and open ended questions are the way to go. Anything with a yes/no answer is sure to make your conversation last seconds. Instead of, “Did you do anything at school today?” You could try, “What was the best part of your day? What was the worst? What did you do at lunch? Who was there?.....” The questions are endless. If you aren't used to doing this already, it may seem a little daunting. Try anyway.
Truth be told, your kid may not want to talk. But what if they do? What if they are really needing you? Wouldn't you want to be there?
I open the door to healthy communication by giving myself the opportunity to listen and my child the opportunity to talk.