The back-to-school season can be a stressful time for both kids and parents. With the return of homework and activities, kids may experience back-to-school anxiety that can strain the parent-child relationship. Even parents can feel anxious about losing out on time with their kids as they navigate busy schedules.
Explore six tips parents can use to build and strengthen relationships with their children after school starts.
1. Create Daily Rituals
A great way to provide stability for your family is to create daily rituals that build connection. Whether it’s having breakfast together, reading a bedtime story, or even taking a short walk after school, establishing a daily routine can strengthen your bond and allow you to connect with your child regularly.
The activity doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming. It can be as simple as setting aside a few minutes each day for a shared activity. By making this a consistent part of your routine, you can show your child that they can rely on you and create lasting memories together, even when life gets busy.
As you incorporate rituals, start with a morning routine to help start your child’s day off right. Mornings can set the tone for the entire day, so on the first day of school, establish a routine that adequately prepares for the day ahead. This can help your child feel calm and organized. Incorporating a few minutes of mindfulness or positive affirmations can help set a positive mindset.
2. Schedule One-On-One Times
While spending time as a family is an excellent way to connect, having dedicated one-on-one time with your child is the perfect opportunity to strengthen bonds. Carve out specific times either weekly or monthly where just you and your child spend time together.
Whether it’s a weekly movie night, a Saturday morning hike, or even just grabbing ice cream after school, scheduling regular one-on-one time shows your child that they are a priority. These special moments provide an opportunity for open communication, sharing of interests, and deepening your relationship. Plus, it gives both of you something to look forward to amidst the busyness of the school year.
3. Ask Open-Ended Questions
As children grow older, it can become increasingly difficult to maintain communication and discussions can only go so far with generic questions. To foster open communication, try asking open-ended questions about their day. Instead of asking simple yes or no questions, ask things like, “What was the most interesting thing you learned today?” or “Tell me about a challenge you faced and how you overcame it.”
Utilizing open-ended questions encourages your child to express their thoughts and feelings, and shows them that you’re genuinely interested in their experiences.
4. Be Available To Listen
Listening is one of the most important communication skills and is essential for parents to allow children the space to open up. Set aside time each day when you can sit down with your child and give them your undivided attention. Put away distractions and actively listen to what they have to say.
Let your child express their thoughts, feelings, and concerns about school, friends, or any other topic. Show them that their voice matters and that you are there to support them. Remember that as they’re communicating, it may not be necessary to offer advice. They may just be looking to let out their feelings.
Before offering advice, ask if that’s what they’re looking for. That way, you can meet their needs by being a compassionate and attentive listener.
5. Attend School Events And Conferences
Attending school events and conferences is a fantastic way to connect with your child during the back-to-school season. By showing up and being present, you are demonstrating your support and involvement in their education. Whether it’s a parent-teacher conference, a school play, or a sports event, make it a point to be there. By attending, not only will you get to witness their accomplishments firsthand, but you’ll also meet your child’s teachers, friends, and other parents.
6. Plan Fun Activities Together
With schools, sports, and other activities, it can be difficult to carve out time during the week to do something fun. On the weekends, make it a point to plan some activities the whole family can enjoy. Plan outings to local parks, museums, or even just a family game night at home.
Take turns choosing activities to ensure everyone gets to participate in something they enjoy. These shared experiences not only create lasting memories but also provide an opportunity for laughter, relaxation, and quality time together. Get creative, have fun, and let the laughter fill your home.
Recognizing that returning to school can be tricky to navigate goes a long way in building your connections. When you address that this could be a challenging time but that you’re committed to making it easier, you show your child that you’re willing to address their needs. Slowly incorporate some or all of these suggestions to make this season much less stressful.
This article was written exclusively for Love What Matters by Kate Fann. Subscribe to our free email newsletter, Living Better—your ultimate guide for actionable insights, evidence backed advice, and captivating personal stories, propelling you forward to living a more fulfilling life.
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