Back to School Success Featuring Kindness, Gratitude & More

By : on : September 5, 2018 comments : (Comments Off on Back to School Success Featuring Kindness, Gratitude & More)
By Dr. Lisa Ferrari & Dr. Carla Fry, Registered Psychologists + Directors of Vancouver Psychology Centre

We get it: Going back to school is a powerful mix of excitement, distress, anxiety and joy for parents and kids alike.

Each September families come knocking at our office door for help and

guidance. We thought we’d put pen to paper, or rather, fingers to keyboard

to share with our readers some of the takeaway bullet-points that we find

that families tell us they appreciate.

First and foremost, we want to emphasize a few key points, then we’ll get

down to some essential do’s and don’ts to help your family set precedents

to prepare for a successful school year.

Key Points to Keep at the Back of Your Parent Brain During Back-to-School:

1. We all want happy kids, however, happy kids are not built from lack of challenges or discomfort nor are they built from experiencing all-day joy and giggles

2. We want to coach our kids to:

a) Understand that resilience in the face of challenge is a necessary variable to having a great school year [a.k.a the ability to bounce back from a problem – not to avoid all problems or to be ‘broken’ when problems happen]

b) Know when/ how to put resilience skills into action to help their days, weeks and school year [how to be the ‘boss’ of their own thoughts, make good decisions about actions that help & to know when/how to ask for help, etc.]

3. Being truly appreciative and grateful for each good moment helps to lessen the negative impacts of problems and heartache. We want to teach them gratitude journaling and how to pay attention to pleasant experiences from each of the 5-senses throughout their day. Modeling these actions does wonders to set the tone to help your kids to view things from a grateful lens.

4. Nurturing kind connections and relationships with both students and staff helps to build a social network that adds to a more positive school community and a more positive attitude for each student who is connected with peers. We want to help our to know how to nurture these friendships and social connections


Okay, now to the do’s and don’ts:

Back-to-School Parenting Do’s

  • Hi-lite that every teacher has things to add to life knowledge – positive & negative – there’s no “the perfect fit”
  • Talk re: how friendships have their own joys and heartaches and bullies and mean kid situations have a mix to offer us as well [although please make note that we believe in a zero tolerance for bullying]
  • Coach our kids re: how to appreciate things big and small each day using the 5 – senses
  • Lead discussions about how to take action at school such as:

– doing one kind act – big or small – each school day

– inviting the new kid to sit with you at lunch

– helping a stressed-out teacher with a task

– refusing to talk negatively about someone behind their back

– standing up for a meeker student

Back-to-School Parenting Don’ts

  • Jump on the bandwagon with other parents/kids to talk re: negative of the teachers or school changes or disliked classmates
  • Say ‘it’ll be a great year’ or ‘it’ll be a fine’ or fun without a framework for “how” it will be [FAKE POSITIVE doesn’t help!!]
  • Coach kids to live for Friday’s and holidays
  • Talk about saving up kind acts just for people in your kids “in-group” or clique – kindness is good to spread around!
  • Talk in a judgmental tone re: neighbors, strangers or family in a way that plants seeds that gossiping is okay. Ever
We wish you the best with your back-to-school transitions. Remember that teaching our kids to appreciate the good and to cope effectively with the bad is better than helping them to avoid challenges by keeping them home, or than telling them to suck it up and stop complaining. Old school parenting styles have no place in our modern world.
If you’d like to know more about childhood resilience or the mood, health or social benefits of gratitude & kindness,  check out our book: Gratitude and Kindness: A Modern Parents Guide to Raising Children in an Era of Entitlement.

VPC Team


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