Reframing Common Conversations
Woohoo it is time to go back to school! I am sure that many of you parents, guardians, and loved ones of school-aged children are experiencing a complex mix of emotions as the summer wraps up. It is perfectly natural to experience some anxiety regarding issues such as childcare, scheduling, and the overall transition; however, it will be a great benefit both to you AND the children if topics related to school are discussed in a positive manner. I would like to share my tips for reframing/rephrasing these conversations in order to decrease anxiety and motivate everyone to put their best foot forward this school year.
“I am nervous about making new friends.”
Instead try- “Wow I am so excited for you to make even more friends this year! How wonderful it is to have the opportunity to meet new people while still treasuring the memories you have with your current group.” This reframe using positive psychology will encourage socializing without focusing on the possible grief of losing friends. Another tip would be to ask your child to host a playdate at your home with someone new!
“You have to make your own lunch now because you are too old for me to do it.”
Instead try- “I am so proud of your growth and maturity that I am trusting you to make your own lunches now. Ask me if you need some help, but I am confident you will do great.” Some kids are not quite ready to grow up and accept new responsibilities, although it is often necessary, so this reframe emphasizes their strengths. If you let them know you believe in them, then they are more likely to believe in themselves.
“You will need to work extra hard this year because I do not want to see your grades fall behind.”
Instead try- “If the schoolwork seems more challenging this year, remember that most of the other kids probably feel the same way. Do not be afraid to ask your teachers and friends for help because working together is the best way to succeed.” We all want good grades and success for our children, but sometimes the pressure of new teachers, harder courses, and change overall can be too much for an anxious student to absorb. This reframe still promotes hard work in the classroom, but also reminds the child that they are never alone in their worries.
“I cannot deal with all of this; school, you kids, work, and keeping it all together”
I want to preface this reframe by validating that parenting is the hardest job on earth, point blank. Sometimes we say things that are maybe too adult for them to hear and we wish we could take them back, or we get caught up in the moment of our own distress. It is healthy to be honest with your children when you are struggling because then they learn that all humans go through hard times; however, it is important to phrase your statements in a way that the kids will not take personally and internalize as being their fault. Try this- “I am very overwhelmed right now. I will be okay, and do not need you to worry about me. However, I might need a little extra help from you until I feel better. Thank you for being such a good listener.”
If you made it this far, I hope you have a better idea of how to broach stressful topics with your little ones. Nobody is perfect, so please be kind and patient with yourselves if these conversations do not come naturally- all good things take practice! As long as you are willing to learn, then your children will have the motivation to learn from you and grow this upcoming school year. Good luck and have fun 🙂