Back to School Tips: Creating Healthy Connections at School and at Home
1. Connecting With Their Teacher(s)
It’s important that children feel connected to an adult they believe will keep them safe. If you notice your child doesn’t feel good about their teacher or school faculty:
Talk to your child about what’s going on. Don’t ignore or dismiss their concerns.
Have a conversation with their teacher and work on a solution together.
Gracefully explain that your child does not seem to have settled in yet, and you hope they can make a special effort to reach out to them so they feel more comfortable.
Follow up with the teacher and your child on their progress.
2. Talking About Differences
Whether it’s a classmate or a loved one that may be different than them in some way, it’s important to be prepared and to address your child’s curiosity as openly and honestly as you can. Here are some helpful tips to help you be prepared when your child comes to you for answers:
It’s okay to notice
Children are naturally curious, so when they see someone different than them, their first instinct is to ask about it. If you notice your child staring at a child with a disability, take the lead and start a conversation. For example, “I see you looking at that little girl in her wheelchair. You might be wondering why she needs it. Some people’s muscles work differently and her wheelchair helps her move around.”
Create opportunities for learning by encouraging your child to ask questions. If they ask a question you don’t have an answer to, use it as an opportunity to learn together.
Acknowledging and celebrating differences helps children to be more empathetic and kind, and creates opportunities for them to learn more about diversity.
Use respectful terminology
Remember children absorb everything they hear. It’s important to not use terminology that could make someone feel left out, or imply that they are less than anyone else. Don’t use differences as a negative way to describe an individual.
Correct your child if you hear them using derogatory terms and explain to them why it may be hurtful.
3. Facilitate Healthy Friendships
Parents and caregivers can support their children in having healthy friendships by talking about what it means to be a good friend.
Topics to discuss
Respecting their friend’s boundaries as well as their own boundaries.
Forgive where you can and seek forgiveness when you make a mistake.
Discuss the importance of listening to their friends to help understand their friend’s needs.
Acknowledge that everyone is human and each person makes their own choices.
Explain how to be a supportive friend.
If you notice your child may not feel adapted to their new environment
Ask your child who they play with at school and if they would like to invite a friend to play or hangout after school.
If your child has a hard time fitting in or making new friends, help them build social skills by setting up playdates or roleplay asking a new friend if they would like to play.
Each school campus has its own cafeteria expectations and rules to follow. The most important rule is to incorporate and teach cafeteria kindness, where our children respect individuals and honor them for who they are. Kindness is really what good manners are all about!
Treating cafeteria employees with kindness
Teaching your children how to foster kindness to all staff in the lunchroom.
A simple please and thank you goes a long way.
Remind your child that staff are individuals who have feelings and we should respect them, just as we would want to be treated.
Teach your child to clear their trash and wipe any mess they might have or have not made.
Describe how cleaning up after their mess shows respect and kindness to the school staff and themselves.
Vanessa is a proud alum of Texas A&M University Corpus Christi where she received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology. As a Prevention Educator with Hays-Caldwell Women’s Center, she provides educational support, resources, advocacy, and awareness on teen dating violence, domestic violence, and sexual assault. She has a strong passion for social justice, and her work is geared towards eliminating and reduce factors that cause the victimization of domestic and sexual violence and unhealthy relationships within the communities. She enjoys working out, playing basketball, podcasting, and reading.