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Now that school has resumed, it can be easy to get caught up in the fast pace of fall. We are busy working, driving kids here and there, cooking, cleaning and making sure homework gets done. In that process, I can’t tell you how many people forget about the relationships they need to be building with their children.

To assist in ensuring balance in our families, here are three things to keep in mind:

  1. School is not what it used to be. Each day of school is a learning curve for children. They are learning new things constantly; rarely given the opportunity to bask in the satisfaction of being good at something (mastery). Always moving forward, adding new pieces and building for tomorrow. There isn’t much focus on today or what was accomplished yesterday. It wasn’t like that when we were kids. How would you like to go to work every day knowing you will not have the opportunity to master your tasks because your job is constantly changing? Maybe you already experience that. It’s not easy. We all enjoy the moments when we can relax at work and do our job with some amount of ease. School today doesn’t offer many of those moments. Be sensitive to the pressure your children are under.
  2. Let home be a safe haven. Parents need to be their child’s #1 advocate for balance, a voice and down time. We accidentally teach our children to be workaholics when we expect six hours of school, 2-4 hours of homework at night, and projects or catch up on the weekends. I don’t believe in that at all. If your child has procrastinated, yes, he may need to pick up the pace and get things done over the weekend. However, if he is doing his part and the work load is simply too much, conversations need to be had with teachers and adjustments need to be made. Parents get to decide what is and is not reasonable for their child and what balance looks like. I’m not talking about 504 Plans or IEP’s; I’m talking about if your student is working at their highest personal level and they are stressed, pressured, crying or lost, fight for them. If you have a student who thrives on challenge and deadlines, that is different. Meet your child where they are. Peace of mind and love of learning is important!
  3. Balance. When school starts, so do after-school activities. Some families like to expose their children to several different enrichment activities and keep them pretty busy. Just keep an eye out for overwhelm, fatigue and not enough down time. Children need to be enjoying their life. We all need to stop and catch our breath on a regular basis. Overbooking kids creates stress, overwhelm, anxiety and shut down. It puts a lot of pressure on families and creates power struggles that no one wins. Pace and balance are extremely important. Parents can take the lead on this by paying attention to how their children are adapting to the load, being their advocate and working with them to build up their abilities as they grow.

Many times parents defer to teachers for what is considered reasonable and they push their children based on that standard. What parents need to create is teamwork between home and school, with the parent at the helm. You know your child better than anyone. Don’t defer the position of advocate to anyone else. Stand up for your child. Teachers will work with you. It takes time and a conversation (or a few), but it is worth it. Have your child’s back and hold them accountable for their best effort. If you need assistance with how or when to have these conversations or what to expect from your child, it would be my pleasure to assist you. I offer a free 15-minute telephone consultation. Simply call 951-240-1407 or email me to set it up. Here’s to a great school year!

Traci L. Williams is the Founder of A Loving Way to Parent, an organization devoted to healthy parent-child relationships. www.alovingway.com / 951-240-1407 / traci@alovingway.com