5 Things to Tell Your Kids Going Back to School

As adults, we largely get to choose our environments.

We can spend our time with people we like, people who help us thrive.

Our children, on the other hand, don’t have that luxury. Instead, they’re thrown into a pressure cooker, locked into closeness with a wide range of personalities that can bring out the best or worst of humanity. It’s a rite of passage, and very few of us finish our school years without some painful experiences and scars.

It’s impossible to create a perfect environment – not when we live in a broken world – but we can make school a better environment, especially after a stressful and lonely COVID year. Here are 5 things to tell your child to foster more warmth and connection.

1. Many of your classmates are hurting. Many face problems that you’d never guess based on their appearance. Today’s students face adult-sized heartaches. What amplifies their heartaches (and stress) is not having strong support systems in place, or being in environments where people act self-absorbed, dismissive, or rude.

Chances are, over the summer, someone in your class lost a parent, a sibling, or a grandparent. Someone learned that their parents are getting divorced. Someone got betrayed by a best friend or kicked out of a friend group. Someone had an injury or a surgery that puts them out of their favorite sport. Someone is depressed and wrestling with dark thoughts or anxiety. Someone got a scary diagnosis, and they’re not sure what it means.

You never know what your classmates are facing, and it shouldn’t take knowing their problems to be an uplifting influence in their life. Assume upfront that everyone has struggles, and if you knew their full story, you’d have a heart for those struggles. You’d never want to make their bad situation feel worse.

2. You (and everyone you know) are just one decision away from falling off a cliff. It’s tempting to judge a classmate who made a bad choice or got caught in a mistake, but the truth is, that could be you. We are all sinners who stumble, and feeling morally superior leads to the worst sin of all: pride. Remembering this keeps you humble. It creates an environment of compassion, friendship, and restoration.

3. Some people start rumors. Some people lie. Some people get their facts mixed up, tell half-truths, or slap labels on people. Think for yourself, and don’t believe everything you hear. Not all rumors are true. Experience has taught me to consider the source (are they trustworthy or prone to gossip? Do they have an agenda or hidden motives?) and look for evidence before assuming the worst. Rather than join every bandwagon, be willing to stand or act alone for what you know is right.

4. You don’t have to be best friends with everyone, but you can – and should – be kind. Nobody clicks with every person they meet, and that is okay. That is life. But you can be kind to those classmates who aren’t your best friends now. People change, mature, and grow up, and some people who you barely know now may later become good friends. People have a way of coming back into your life, so keep a friendly rapport when possible and don’t burn bridges.

5. Twenty years from now, your classmates will remember you with either a smile on their face or a pit in their stomach. They’ll share stories with their children and grandchildren about the peers who shaped their formative years. Your classmates will never forget how you treat them, so stay mindful of your words and actions. Know that you have the power – every day – to help or to hurt them, to notice them or ignore them, to love them as they are or to make them feel like a mistake. Many kids grow up and regret being mean, but you’ll never regret being kind.

The beauty of a new school year is how it presents a clean slate. It let us learn from the past and do better moving forward. Help your child see the opportunity to positively impact their classmates’ lives. At every age, they can be a voice and force for good, bringing light and hope into a classroom for those students who need it most.

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Thanks for reading this message. Please share it on social media, or click over to the Girl Mom podcast to listen to it audibly.

My new book Love Her Well: 10 Ways to Find Joy and Connection with Your Teenage Daughter is now available, and it’s getting a fantastic response as moms read it and share it with friends. You can find it everywhere books are sold, including Amazon and Audible. What a privilege it’s been to narrate my first book for moms!   

My two books for teen girls, 10 Ultimate Truths Girls Should Know and Liked, have been used widely across the U.S. for group studies. For more posts, subscribe to this blog or join me on FacebookInstagram and the Girl Mom podcast.

 

 

Posted by Kari on July 25, 2021

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One response to “5 Things to Tell Your Kids Going Back to School”

  1. Amy Jo Alspaugh says:

    So good, Kari! Adults need to read these words as well.

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