Talking to Children with Honesty and Kindness is Key

Many schools have started, or will be starting soon the 2020-2021 school year. Most teachers and students alike share in first-day anxiety, but this year, it is shared by most everyone. COVID-19 has rocked the very foundation of our society at all levels– childcare and education being at its core.

As we start the academic year we hope that parents will remember to speak simply, and honestly to their children about safety protocols. It’s important to keep negative emotions out of conversations with children so they feel more empowered to face what may seem like an entirely different school. It is best that comments and instruction by parents remain positive and upbeat, while acknowledging and respecting their children’s fears and apprehension. It’s a fine line to balance, but it is important to eliminate a fear-mentality, so energies can be more focused on the new day-to-day tasks that will be required in order to maintain safety.

It is a good ideas to share expectations with children in advance so they know what to expect throughout their day. Like adults, children need time to mentally prepare for what is ahead of them, this will help to eliminate outbursts and swinging emotions. Parents may want to set time aside to debrief with their children regarding their day, time to address the social and emotional aspects of their day. The sooner a child is able to express their feelings, have them acknowledged, and then addressed, the sooner they will be able to move on and learn from emotionally charged experiences. It is also a great way to build resilience; by providing an opportunity for children to reflect on their daily interactions, and how they can be improved or better understood, the more children understand that they are able to steer their reactions, and ultimately have more control over their lives.

Parents should remember to communicate with their child’s teacher incidents that may impact their child’s academic or personal well being. Parents and teachers are a collaborative team, but good communication is key. Sometimes teachers need context in which to place a student’s behavior, just as parents can benefit from knowing of a significant situation at school. If a child is having difficulty at home, it will manifest at school, and vice-versa. So communicate openly so that both parent and teacher are on the same page, it will make a world of difference.

This school year more than ever, we all want our children, teachers, school staff, community partners, and administrators to be safe and healthy. It will take a team effort, but it is possible. We must face this school year with a commitment to honesty, kindness, patience, and open communication. We must do it for our children. To learn more, you can find a very helpful link to strategies, tips, and best-practice regarding back-to-school from the Connecticut State Department of Education Here

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