From Dr. Jane's Notebook
The new school year offers a clean slate for all of us
In a few short weeks, summer will come to a
close and a new school year will begin. To start the school year off right,
there are many wonderful ancient traditions such as buying new school supplies,
wearing a new outfit on the first day of school, and having a new pair of shoes.
But best of all, I like the tradition of the “clean slate”… that extraordinary
opportunity for a fresh start. Actually, I think that each one of us should be
entitled to a clean slate and a new batch of self-confidence at the beginning of
the new school year, regardless of when we graduated. Here are a few more
thoughts on the matter.
It’s time for a family meeting.
To prepare for the coming school year, pick a time that’s good for everyone,
and call a family meeting that includes all who live in your home. An adult
member of the family should moderate the meeting and everyone should sit in a
circle on the floor or around a table. You might want to start with a few
ground rules, such as no interrupting, no name-calling, confidentiality, etc.,
and ask someone to serve a secretary by taking notes of the meeting. Go around
the circle and invite each person to talk about their schedules and share
their thoughts about the year to come. Family meetings offer a great
opportunity to talk about personal goals, express appreciation for everyone’s
hard work and enlist further family cooperation for the days and months ahead.
In spite of their resistance, even your teenagers will be impressed by this
It is important for children to hear good
things about themselves. The
preeminent psychiatrist, Alfred Adler theorized that as babies, we all start
out in life with feelings of inferiority. For many months, babies are unable
to walk, talk, or even feed themselves. As they grow, our children strive to
overcome their feelings of smallness and inferiority in order to develop a
sense of security, mastery, and self-esteem. In order to be successful later
on, a child must navigate this treacherous transition from feeling inferior
about one’s self to feeling competent and self-confident. Criticism is easy to
come by, but criticism fails to build upon our strengths. A little well-placed
encouragement helps children build upon their strengths instead of their
List the goals of your family unit.
Children need to learn methods for
achieving success. Whenever possible, talk with your child about your own
goals and plans for reaching them. As part of your Family Meeting, ask each
member of the family, no matter what their age, to describe their goals for
the coming months. Each of us have things we want to do and things we need to
do. By listing the goals of family members for all to see, others can be
interested, helpful and supportive. As a family, you can celebrate each
other’s efforts, whether they are completely successful or not. Each person
will have individual goals and your family as a unit will have some group
goals. Write them down along with the date. This is your family’s blueprint.
Along with each success, family members will gain a growing sense of
Institute a Family Calendar.
Once your schedules have been determined,
everyone’s activities, including parents’ work schedules, should be posted on
a large Family Calendar on the kitchen wall at an eye level that everyone can
see. Make the calendar easier to read by assigning a different color of ink to
each person. Children learn how to organize themselves at home. A family
calendar helps to decrease the family stress and strain which comes from
miscommunications, scheduling errors, time pressures, overload, being
over-booked or over-committed in our lives. As an accurate reflection of your
busy-ness, the calendar can also help you to monitor the delicate balance in
work vs. play time with your family, with your mate, and in the time you take
Today’s children witness problems far beyond
the scope of what children ought to see. Fortunately or unfortunately, their
responses will reflect what they learn at home. Some children, like their
parents, will learn to throw temper tantrums, to strike out at others, or react
to problems by turning to drugs and alcohol. Other kids, like their parents,
will learn to volunteer to help their neighbors and those less fortunate, they
will learn how to pull together through hard times, and they will learn creative
ways to solve problems. There is no doubt that we live in difficult times. And
while we cannot help our children solve all of their problems, we can offer them
our love and emotional support and at this time of year, we can remind them of
that time-honored tradition of the “clean slate”.
©Copyright, 2006, Jane R. Rosen-Grandon. All rights reserved.
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