Virginia Williams, Possip reporter with a background in Elementary Education & Special Education, came up with a few ideas on what to say and ask at home to support your child or teen at school!
Being a kid can be hard! We all know this. We experienced it firsthand when we were younger, and now as parents, we’re witnessing our kids endure struggles of their own. But the good news is that the way we as parents and caregivers engage our children can support them through these overwhelming times! We hope these tips give you confidence as you talk to your children about their wins, losses, hopes, struggles and joys.
This is especially important if your child is in middle school or high school. Oftentimes, kids this age feel pressure to meet a variety of high expectations. As parents, we can make our child feel safer by opening up about our own struggles. Show your child that you are not only their parent, but also another human, with challenges and failures of your own. Did you ever struggle to make friends? Did you ever feel left out? Did you get cut from a sports team? Make a bad grade? Connect with your child by sharing these stories and reminding them that their disappointment is normal and also temporary.
It’s important to know the best times and places to have these meaningful conversations. When your child is rushing out the door is not the time to discuss how they’re feeling about a bad grade! You’re also probably not going to break boundaries during a conversation if it happens in the presence of others. Wait until you have the right time and space. For example, riding in the car, taking a walk or just before bedtime.
Kids don’t always like the attention on them. Sometimes, even if you do everything right, your child still might not want to talk to you. Be patient, and don’t give up! Try again in a few days. If you feel like you’re really struggling to connect and support your child, ask them if there’s another adult they’d like to talk to (an aunt/uncle, grandparent, coach, etc.). Reach out to your school counselors or your child’s teachers for suggestions and resources!
Parenting is hard and takes courage. If you’re attempting to have these important conversations with your child, then you are already on the right track. Remind your child that you love them and are here to support them, and take it one conversation at a time!