It’s that time of year again. You are buying clothes and school supplies for your children. You are thinking about how you are going to juggle different school schedules with your commitments to work or charitable organizations. You are wondering how you will ever have dinner together again as a family when each of your children plays a different sport and has a different schedule. You are trying to figure out what guidelines to give your child in terms of the grades you expect from him or her in school. You are thinking about the fact that art, music and possibly even religion have been forgotten in the “go go go” pressure cooker of academic life today.
It is time to take a step back and think about what is really important. Yes, you need school supplies, but not all those clothes have to be bought before school opens. And your child probably does not need to participate in three different teams (one for school, one community and one travel) for each sport.
Perhaps it is time to think about the really important things we need to say to our children before they return to school. Here are a few that I would recommend:
• Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing. Do what makes you happy and the things you feel good about. Don’t be afraid to march to your own drummer.
• Think about other children who may not have as much as you have or who are different from you. Be nice to them and try to be kind to everyone.
• Don’t worry about what everyone else is wearing or how they are doing their hair. You do not have to look like anyone else. Value yourself and how you look.
• Talk to people, and try not to rely completely on electronics. You will never learn as much, or get as much enjoyment from a text, snapchat, email, etc., as you will from a face to face conversation with a real live person.
• Be a good friend. Even if you like to do things alone, it is important to have people around you sometimes. You can learn from them and be stimulated by them. And they can enjoy being with you.
• Don’t worry about being the smartest or the fastest or the coolest kid. Remember that you are loved and that our love for you is not dependent on what you achieve. What you accomplish is for you, not for us.
• Take chances and try new things, even if you are not sure you are going to be good at them. It is a wonderful way to find out what you like, and also a good way to learn to be courageous.
After I wrote this list, I reviewed it and thought that these are not just lessons for the school year. They are really lessons for every day of the year and for people of all ages. So share them with your children, and then think about them for yourself. After all, you are their role model.
Alison P. Block, Ph.D., Health Psychology Center
116 Oceanport Avenue, Little Silver, NJ 07739
Health Psychology Center
At the Health Psychology Center, we believe that people can take control of their lives, and face their challenges and problems with confidence. We help our patients build on their existing strengths, and add effective new skills for greater fulfillment and growth. Our approach, which includes cognitive-behavioral therapy, is learning-focused and solution-oriented. By teaching patients about the role their thoughts and feelings play in their lives, they are better able to understand and change their behaviors.
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