Many kids and families are already starting to settle into the routine of the new school year. For students transitioning to kindergarten, middle school, high school or college, it can take up to four to six weeks to feel comfortable with their new surroundings. New schools, new schedules and new friends can test kids’ self-confidence as they adjust and find their way.
Self-confidence is similar to a muscle – the more it’s tested, the stronger it will be. When it comes to middle school, high school and college bound teens, self-confidence is especially important. When kids are confident, they are less likely to follow others’ negative behavior as a way to fit in.
To empower children as they maneuver through a school transition, parents can provide support and help build self-confidence in the following ways:
1. Build their organizational skills.
Teaching kids organizational skills helps build self-confidence. This is an especially important skill for middle school kids to develop, when they’re faced with changing classes and teachers for the first time. Being organized helps alleviate anxiety and enables children to stay focused. Build a skill and you strengthen the muscle.
2. Remind them of their strengths.
As your kids strive to fit in, remind them of moments or situations where their personal strengths have helped them. They can apply those skills to help navigate new situations. This helps build confidence and reinforces that they have the tools to handle any challenge.
3. Be positive and encouraging.
Be conscious of not putting too much pressure on your kids. Do your best not to compare your child to a sibling or other children. Focus on what you know your kids are capable of, show support and keep things positive.
4. Minimize your time in the “worry zone.”
What if my kids don’t get along with others? Will they be able to handle the new schedule? What if they don’t make new friends? These are natural questions to have, but I caution parents not to slip into the “worry zone,” thinking about all the “what ifs.” It can cause your kids to worry, too. Instead, focus on building your kids up and showing them you have confidence in what they can do.
5. Keep things in perspective.
Kids are going to have bad days, and there may be times when they really struggle. Try to keep things in perspective – don’t read into things too much. Tomorrow is another day and a chance for a fresh start. Always know that there are professionals to assist you at every school or University.
To learn more about the stages of parenting, please visit the Parenting Approach section of our website.
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