From Dr. Jane's Notebook

More Than Book-Bags and New Shoes

Whether we have children or not, few of us can ignore the changes that come with the academic calendar. You may have noticed the bombardment of Back-to-School advertising, the reactivation of traffic lights in school zones, you may have attended one or more new school-year orientations, or you may have helped your young adult move into an apartment or dormitory. Regardless of the stage of their education, most of us cannot help but be affected by these annual changes which mark the end of summer and the beginning of the fall.

However, school is not exactly the same as it used to be. In recent years, acts of school-related violence have changed the way many of us think. In addition to new shoes and book-bags, here are a few more ways to prepare your child for the new school year.

Personally and professionally, I recommend that teaching your child to tell the truth is more important than issuing punishment. No matter how bad the crime may seem, the act of telling the truth should be rewarded by a parent’s love and concern. If a truly serious infraction has occurred, the law or someone other than the parent will no doubt provide sufficient punishment.

One parent I know describes how she found it valuable to think of herself as her child’s attorney. As an attorney who is representing a client, she claims it is not always necessary to judge her child’s behavior in order to help them through difficult times. Sometimes, it is better to wait and discuss a child’s transgressions later on when tempers are relaxed and the whole truth is known.

School violence is not a show of strength, but a sign of weakness that results in lashing out against others. When it comes to preventing violence, parents are in the best position to help their child learn ways to cope with the feelings of helplessness that inevitably arise for students. As parents, part of our job is to help our children survive emotionally. To survive, kids basically need to know that their parents are on their side.

ęCopyright, 2000, Jane R. Rosen-Grandon. All rights reserved.

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