Articles for Parents

Everything listed under: transitions

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    4 Ways to Adjust as Your Child Leaves for College

    When children leave the nest, it can be a very traumatic time for parents. You may second-guess how well you have prepared them to be out on their own. You might even be thinking about how things will be different at home with all the new time you have on your hands. This is what you’ve been working toward all these years, but there’s just something about letting go. 

    There is no question your role as parent shifts as your young adult grows even more independent. While your child is becoming his/her own person and pursuing their dreams, some parents really mourn this milestone - and there is nothing wrong with that. It is for sure a shift. Now, you get to watch them spread their wings while you take a background role of being supportive and encouraging as well as providing a safe place for them to come for rest. 

    If you are just beginning this adventure, it might be helpful to know a few things. Not everybody deals with this transition the same way. One parent may be experiencing tremendous grief while the other is excited not just for their college student, but also for the transition at home. Be careful not to judge. Instead, check in with each other to see how each of you is navigating through the change.

    Talk about ways you can encourage your student while also caring for your own needs. Since you won't be seeing your son or daughter every day, it might be helpful to write them weekly letters. Students say there is nothing better than going to their mailbox and actually having real mail. Periodic phone calls are great for staying connected, but letters are something they can keep and read over and over again.

    If you are in the midst of making this transition, here are some suggestions for getting through the initial shock: 

    Plan ahead. Don’t wait until the last minute to think about how you will deal with the extra time on your hands. Have some projects planned that you can focus on. Be intentional about planning things you can do on the weekend.

    Set limits for yourself. As your child settles into a new routine, there will be lots of demands on their time. Instead of calling every day, let your child make the first phone call and try to limit yourself to checking in once a week. Email is also a great way to stay in touch and be supportive without being intrusive.

    Be there when your child needs you. The first few months may also be hard for your child. Encourage them to hang in there. Send care packages and cards. Make your home a refuge they will want to come back to. Avoid making major changes to your child’s room.

    Consider the next thing. As your parenting role changes yet again, you will want to consider what’s next. Keep your eyes and heart open to where you need to go in life and what you want your life to be about. 

    Letting go can be especially hard, but it would be a shame to be so wrapped up in your loss that you miss what your child needs from you in this season of their life. Different seasons call for changes and adjustments, and although this particular season is new to you, remember that you’ve dealt with changes and challenges since you brought them home. All those moments have led you to this place.

    This article was originally published in the Chattanooga Times Free Press on August 23, 2019.

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    4 Tips for Handling the College-to-Home Transition

    When college students return home for breaks after spending 10 months basically without a curfew, not having to answer to anybody about their comings and goings, and no chores, the homecoming has the potential to be a bit rocky, especially for freshmen.

    “We weren’t exactly sure what to expect when our daughter came home from her freshman year,” says Kim Clausen. “She was used to being on her own. When I asked where she was going and when she would be back, I got looks like, ‘Why do you need to know that?’ We had to re-acclimate to her being home and she had to get used to being with us. We all survived, but it took some adjustment on everybody’s part. Things were definitely different.”

    Planning Ahead for Adjustments Can Help

    Like so many families, the Clausens had settled into a new routine with their two remaining teens at home. Excited about their daughter’s return, they honestly didn't think a lot about making adjustments as they brought her back into the fold.

    “If we had it to do over again, we would have a conversation prior to her returning home about expectations, schedules and the like,” Clausen says. “When she is away she can do what she wants, but when we are trying to juggle work, the schedules of our other two teens and life in general, we need everybody to be on the same page.”

    Clara Sale-Davis also found herself in the same position as the Clausen family. Before her daughter came home, she thought about how to make the transition easier.

    “I remember when I went home for the summer,” says Sale-Davis. “I thought I was going to be running around doing whatever I wanted. Mom would wash my clothes and have dinner ready. I quickly found out I was delusional. While I am honored that my daughter wants to come home for the summer, I wanted to be proactive with her so she would know what to expect.”

    Sale-Davis let her daughter know that while they wanted home to be a safe haven, it would not be a resort. She encouraged her daughter to find a job and told her that chores would be awaiting her. She also discussed what seemed reasonable for everyone when it comes to staying out late with friends.

    “I thought it would be better to have the conversation ahead of time,” Sale-Davis says. “We talked over the phone and I could hear her eyes rolling. It isn’t that I don’t trust her. We just don’t need to worry unnecessarily.”

    Here are some suggestions for making it a pleasant break for everyone.

    • Establish expectations. Know your priorities, communicate them clearly and discuss what is and is not negotiable. Be clear about what will happen if they do not adhere to your expectations.
    • Don’t expect your young adult to have the same mindset they had when they left for college. They have been making decisions for themselves, so encourage them to continue to do so while respecting the house rules.
    • Choose your battles carefully. If you are encouraging them to make their own decisions, realize that they may not make the same decisions you would make for them.
    • Take this time to help your college student understand what it will be like when they are finally out on their own, paying rent, bills and doing their own laundry.

    The transition to home from college can be interesting, to say the least. While young adults are in the process of becoming more independent, they still rely on their parents in many ways - including providing a roof over their head during the breaks - not to mention paying college tuition.

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    5 Things I Would Say to My Freshman Self

    “I was excited about going away to college,” said Grace Hopkins. “I have basically done everything my entire life with my sister. This will be the first time for both of us to be on our own for an extended period of time.”

    As excited and prepared as Grace thought she was, she experienced some rude awakenings as a freshman.

    “My parents made it a point to teach us how to do laundry, clean our rooms and manage money. I thought I was totally prepared for being on my own,” Grace said.

    “It was kind of a shock when things like time management and budgeting got the best of me. I have always been good about managing my time, BUT I was with friends who were also excited about the newness of college and wanted to have fun first. They encouraged me to have fun and I let some things fall behind.”

    Even though Grace budgeted her money before she went to college, she wasn’t used to having to pay for everything herself.

    “It was just so tempting when your friends wanted to go grab something to eat,” Grace shared. “I figured out pretty quickly that if I kept spending money like this,I was going to be broke before we made it to midterms.”

    Grace is in good company. Many college freshmen have struggled with exactly the same issues. Here are Grace's thoughts on what she would say to her freshman self:

    • Time management is key. "As a freshman, you will want to do it all and experience as much as you can but you have to consider your responsibilities first. You don’t want to wake up at exam time and realize that you are really behind.”
    • Get involved. “I joined a couple of clubs. That was a good way to meet people outside of the people you meet at orientation. It’s a great way to get to know some upperclassmen.”
    • Be prepared for the "roommate thing." “I had not shared a room with someone in many years so it took some getting used to,” said Grace. “We put together a roommate contract the first day about things like expectations concerning bedtime, who could be in the room and when. Even with the written agreement, there were still challenges.”
    • Beware of the little expenditures. "Everything adds up real quick."
    • Getting enough sleep makes a huge difference. “Staying up with friends until 2 a.m. and having to get up for a 9 a.m. class did not work out real well for me.”

    Many teens are anxious to transition to this new phase of life. On the outside, they act confident but on the inside they are wondering: Am I really prepared?

    Encourage your teen to take Grace’s advice. Help them with strategies for balancing their newfound freedom and responsibility.

    Discuss potential risks and the difficult choices they may have to make. Mistakes are inevitable, but you can prepare and empower your teen to enter into their freshman year with confidence. In the end, experience will be their best teacher.

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    3 Ways to Help Your Kids Launch

    I remember it like it was yesterday. She bopped up to the front door of her new school in pigtails, all ready for her first day of kindergarten. After giving her a big hug, I walked back to the car with leaky eyes, feeling all the feels. 

    I was excited for our daughter’s new adventure, but I knew the page had turned and things would be different from that point forward. Beyond knowing numbers, letters and how to spell an 11-letter last name, I hoped we had given her a fierce sense of adventure and thirst for learning that would serve her well through the years. 

    Fast forward to 2010. There I was again, except this time the drop-off was different. She was actually moving into a dorm and we were driving home. Wasn’t this the goal, to work ourselves out of a job? I mean, this is what we’d been preparing her for throughout her life, right? As we drove away, my eyes started leaking again. I thought about all we tried to instill in her from the time she entered kindergarten to high school graduation, in between eye rolls, heavy sighs and being “the only parents who….(you fill in the blank)” and I wondered what actually did sink in. Once again, I found myself praying we’d prepared her for the road ahead.

    Whether your child is heading off to kindergarten or launching from the nest, letting go can be hard. Sometimes it can feel like a real identity crisis, especially since the focus has been on the children for so many years. Now it’s time to pull back a bit and let them gain their footing.

    If this is a first for you, here are some things to help you navigate a new normal.

    • Remind yourself that one of the ultimate goals of parenting is launch. If you need a little motivation, just think about the alternative: a 30-year-old sitting on your couch, playing video games day and night. 

    • Get busy. In the midst of perhaps a tinge of identity crisis, think about all of the things you wanted to do over the years, but never had the time or energy because you were focused on your children’s needs. The silence at home can initially be deafening, but finding something to do with the additional time on your hands can soften the blow of coming home to an empty house. It can also help you avoid second-guessing your parenting and whether or not you have given your child what it takes to be successful.

    • Connect with parents who are a bit beyond you in the parenting journey. Don’t look for perfect parents, though. Instead, look for the ones who haven’t been afraid to let their kids fly, fail and fly again. It’s encouraging to know parenting isn’t about perfection, but about being present and allowing your children to learn and grow into the person they are called to be.

    Just last week my daughter reminded me that she’s 25 and she’s good. I laughed on the outside, but on the inside, maybe not so much. Don’t get me wrong: I love that she is living her life and being responsible, but I think even when your kids are grown, you still look out for them and want the best for them. During a conversation with a dad a few weeks ago about adult children, he said, “Once a parent, always a parent.” That statement is definitely true, but how you engage is very different. Hopefully, your adult child doesn’t need you as much, but they’ll want to be around you because they enjoy your company.


    Looking for more resources? Watch this episode of JulieB TV for an in-depth look on this topic!


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    5 Ways to Rise to the Challenge of Single Parenting

    The challenges of single parenting are many. Holding down a job, taking care of the children’s needs and household repairs, and a whole host of other things vie for the 168-hour week. How do single parents make it through the trials and come out feeling good about themselves and their children?

    When Martin Luther King III was asked how his mother handled being a single parent, he responded, “My mother did the best she could. She surrounded us with caring adults, including my grandmother, who loved us and provided structure and security to help us grow to be responsible adults.” 

    Census reports indicate there has been a significant increase in single-parent households. In fact, more than 13.7 million men and women find themselves in the position of parenting alone. Things that have never been issues before are now on the radar screen, often producing anxiety, fear and many sleepless nights. 

    “I have been a single parent of three for six years,” says Richard.* “I didn’t know a soul when I moved here and had no family support. The biggest obstacle for me was keeping all of the balls up in the air. I was launching a new business and trying to keep my family going.” 

    Richard describes his transition into single parenthood as highly emotional.  

    “I was living in a one-bedroom place,” Richard says. “At the outset it was very difficult. I realized I was insecure emotionally. I remember taking lunch hours to do laundry at the laundromat.”

    Fortunately, Richard found resources that were available to assist in his parenting efforts. 

    “The aftercare program at school was a lifesaver,” Richard shares. “There were teachers and friends who helped out in many ways. We were befriended by many people to whom I will always be grateful.”

    If you’re a single parent trying to find your way, here are some helpful suggestions from seasoned single parents:

    • Get organized. Make a plan for moving forward. Take time to sort through activities, job demands, a budget, available resources, etc. This will help you to be more in control of your situation and to focus on what is important.

    • Focus on family. Set expectations, establish boundaries, keep the lines of communication open and set aside time to be together as a family.

    • Throw perfection out the window. It isn’t about having it all together. It is about doing the best you can under difficult circumstances. 

    • Ask for help. It's not a sign of weakness to ask for help. There are resources available, but you have to make the connection. Neighbors, church friends and co-workers are often ready and willing to step up to the plate. 

    • Take one day at a time. After you have put a plan together, don’t get overwhelmed by the big picture. 

    After going through the trauma of a breakup, loss or abandonment, it’s easy to shy away from asking for help for fear of being seen as weak. Most single parents will say this is not how they wished things would be. But over time, many single moms and dads realize the experience has made them stronger and that it is truly okay to ask for help. 


    Looking for more? Check out this episode of JulieB TV on this topic!


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    6 Ways to Help Children Thrive During Transitions

    At the end of summer, there are many transitions in the making. 

    Kindergartners are attending school for the first time. Last year's fifth-graders will go on to middle school. Eighth-graders who were at the top of the pecking order are entering high school and essentially are now the little fish in the big pond. Then there are the seniors - some of whom cannot wait for graduation, while others want to take their sweet time getting there.

    Some parents can't wait for the transitions to occur. Others, however, secretly grieve as they see time flying by, wishing it would stand still for just a bit longer.

    No matter where you fall on the transition continuum, the air is typically charged with emotions from excitement, fear and anxiety to anticipation and perhaps feeling overwhelmed. Those with middle and high school-age teens get the added hysteria of hormones in the mix.

    As a family, it is possible to have multiple transitions happening simultaneously, each with its own set of expectations and unpredictable challenges which can make any sane parent want to disappear.

    There's good news, though! You can intentionally bring calm to the forefront and help your kids thrive during times of transition.

    • Deal with your own emotions. Sometimes parents can be full of anxiety about an upcoming transition while the child is full of excitement. Be careful not to place your emotions on your child. Find an appropriate outlet to talk about how you're feeling.

    • Acknowledge that change is afoot. Talk about what will be different. Discuss what is exciting and what might be scary about the change.

    • Celebrate the milestone. While preparing for a transition can provoke anxiety, there is reason to celebrate the end of one season and the beginning of another. Share the ways in which you have seen your child/teen grow and mature. They need to know you believe in them and that you have confidence in their ability to navigate this new adventure.

    • Determine a plan of action. The unknown can be really scary. Helping your child develop an action plan for handling their transition will help build confidence and remove feelings of helplessness.

    • Identify your support team. Coaches, teachers, guidance counselors, pastors, youth leaders, mentors, grandparents, other extended family members and close friends can all be part of this team. Don't assume your child/teen knows who is on this team. Discuss it together and make sure they can identify at least three people other than their parents who are on their team.

    • Talk to other parents and children who have already made this transition. Conversations with others who have successfully navigated the journey can be both encouraging and enlightening, saving you a lot of heartache and stress while giving you pointers on how to avoid land mines. For children/teens, talking with others their own age who have walked the road can be comforting and empowering.

    All of these transitions are a sign of growth for children and their parents. These are great times to teach the life skills that will help your children be resilient. Instead of trying to avoid the changes, embrace them and make the most of them.

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    Making the Empty-Nest Transition

    It’s coming and you know it’s coming, and you're doing everything in your power NOT to think about it. But when your youngest child leaves and you're alone with a deafeningly silent house, you'll want to be ready for the transition.

    Thousands of young people head off to college each year, leaving their parents with a lot of time on their hands. Although they understand their role has changed, they are not quite sure what that means. Everything is different. No more school sports. No need to buy so many groceries. The mess throughout the house? Gone.

    Some parents are excited about this newfound freedom while others find this time rather depressing.

    “Making this transition can be tough,” says Pam Johnson, licensed clinical social worker and mother of two adults who have flown the nest. “You have to stay focused on the idea that your child is becoming his own person and pursuing dreams, which was the goal all along. Instead of lamenting the fact they don’t need you anymore, think about what they do need and the opportunity you have before you. As parents, we often put off our own interests to focus our attention on the needs of our children. This is a new season filled with opportunities.”

    Johnson recalls that when her daughter went off to college, she and her husband dealt with the transition differently. Her world was turned upside down, but her husband seemed to take everything in stride. When she asked him about it, he explained that their daughter was happy. And he felt confident they had given her a great foundation to stand on her own two feet.

    Johnson offers these strategies for making the transition to the empty nest:

    • Plan ahead. Don’t wait until your child leaves to think about how you will deal with your extra time. Plan some projects to occupy your time. Be intentional about scheduling weekend activities you can do as a couple.

    • Set limits for yourself. As your child settles into a new routine, there will be lots of demands on their time. Let your child make the first phone call and try to limit yourself to checking in once a week. E-mailing or texting are great ways to check in and be supportive without being intrusive.

    • Be there when your child needs you. The first few months may be hard for your child. Encourage perseverance. Send care packages and cards. Make your home a refuge to which they will want to return.

    • Consider the next thing. You have been given the gift of being a parent for a season of life. As that role changes, you will want to consider what’s next. Keep your eyes and heart open to where you need to go in life and what you want your life to be about.

    “Letting go is hard,” Johnson says. “You want to let go of them gracefully.

    “Here’s a little secret. When they come home, you will be happy to see them come home AND you will be happy to see them go because you will have transitioned into new routines and rituals that aren’t all about them.”


    Looking for more? Check out this episode of JulieB TV on this topic!



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    Co-Parenting: Smoother Transitions

    When Catherine* and her husband separated, their children were 3, 7 and 9.

    The couple's separation and divorce was amicable. They were friendly, worked well together, and took turns if one of them needed child care. Catherine often thought that if they could have gotten along that well when married, they would have never divorced.

    After about nine months, however, the relationship became ugly. The parents couldn't be in the same room without arguing or fighting horribly.

    “I will never forget the time my youngest was clinging to me and crying, saying he didn’t want to go,” Catherine says. “I had to peel him from my body, hand him to his daddy, turn around and go in the house and throw up. Sometime later he said, ‘I don’t want to go, but if I cry it doesn’t matter.’ I told him that was right. It nearly ripped my heart out.”

    People often think that if they are reasonable the ex will be reasonable, but that's not always the case. Smooth transitions and difficult ex-spouses don’t tend to go together. The challenge for co-parents is to set aside personal issues and focus on the parental issues at hand. The goal is to make transition times as smooth as possible. In some instances you just have to be decent.

    “I frequently remind people that some of what happens during a transition is up to you and some is not,” says Ron Deal, author of The Smart Stepfamily and the web book, Parenting After Divorce at successfulstepfamilies.com. “An old African proverb says, ‘When two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers.’ Biological parents who fight and refuse to cooperate are trampling on their most prized possessions - their children.”

    Here are Deal's suggestions for diminishing conflict in the midst of transitions:

    • Write down your goal for the parental task at hand on a 3x5 card. Whether it is making a phone call to determine drop-off arrangements or talking in person about an issue at school, script out what you want to say. This will help you stick to the topic and hopefully achieve your goal.
    • Keep the conversation civil and nonreactive. Maybe you are calling about visitation arrangements and the other parent brings up something else. Instead of changing topics, perhaps you could respond with, "I know that is a problem -what time should I pick him up?"
    • Avoid putting your child in a position to choose between one home or the other.
    • Schedule a monthly “business” meeting to discuss co-parenting matters.
    • Be reliable. Don’t disappoint your children with broken promises.
    • Make your custody structure work for your children even if you don’t like the details of the arrangement.

    “It is common for couples to move in and out of higher levels of cooperation,” Deal says. “Things are usually worse right after the divorce. Your goal is to create a strong boundary between old marital issues and the current parental relationship.”

    For more insight on marriage, download our E-book, "10 Tips for Blended Families." Download Here

    *Name was changed.

    Looking for more? Check out this JulieB TV episode on this topic!


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    9 Ways To Help Your Kids Transition During the Holidays

    Scott (not his real name) will get his fill of turkey this Christmas at three different homes with different sets of parents and relatives. He's not happy about moving from place to place, but he really doesn’t have a say.

    “It is not unusual for children of divorced parents to celebrate holidays multiple times,” says Rev. Dick Dunn, retired minister of singles and stepfamilies and author of New Faces in the Frame and Willing to Try Again: Steps Toward Blending a Family. “Often, parents are so caught up in their own feelings of grief and loss or wanting things their way during the holiday season, they forget how hard it is on the children.”

    For example, one child said she wanted to go visit her non-residential parent, but when she is with that parent, she misses the other parent. Going back and forth is better than nothing, but it is very hard on children. It's helpful if parents recognize this.

    “Every time they go back and forth, they relive the divorce,” Dunn says. “A lot of the acting out that occurs in preparation for a transition, especially around the holidays, is a reaction to the gut pain, hurt and anger children feel. The best thing parents can do is help their child make the transition from one house to the other as smooth as possible.”

    To help children have the best holiday celebration possible, Dunn offers these suggestions to parents:

    • Acknowledge that transitions are difficult. Talk about holiday plans ahead of time and get your child's input. Sometimes acknowledging the reality of the situation can make things better for your child.

    • Strategize with your child. Ask them what would make the transition easier. They may not know at the moment, but asking them can make them feel good. When they suggest something, try it evaluate how it worked together.

    • Keep commitments. Your children are depending on you to do what you say you will do.

    • Don't play games with your child's emotions. Children learn relationship skills from watching their parents and they often question their parents' love and care when things do not go as planned. Do not put them in the middle or use them to hurt the other parent.

    • Be prepared. If plans change often, get your child ready for that. Then make a back-up plan and understand their disappointment.

    • See acting out behavior for what it is. Ask your child, “What would make going easier?” or “How can we make your return go smoother?”

    • Stay in the parent role. It's normal to want to be your child's best friend, especially when you only have him/her for a day or two. But once you cross this line, it is very difficult to go back to the parent role. Your child is depending on you to be their parent.

    • Remember, you can celebrate the holiday when you want. Celebrate according to what works best for you and your child.

    • Consider how making or changing plans will affect your child beforehand.

    “The key to pleasant holiday memories for children who are moving back and forth between homes rests in the hands of the parents,” Dunn says. “Regardless of the situation, focus on solutions and staying whole in the midst of craziness. Parents have the responsibility and privilege of setting the mood for the holidays. Being considerate of your children as they adjust to this situation will help them create pleasant memories. Including them in the planning process will encourage communication that makes the holidays easier for everyone.”

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    Ways to Prepare Your Child for Kindergarten

    Thousands of children will soon make the transition from preschool or home to kindergarten. Some children will look forward to this moment with great anticipation, but others may experience some anxiety about leaving familiar surroundings. Regardless of how your child is feeling, parents play a powerful role in helping make the transition a smooth one.

    Timing Is Everything

    Now is the time to begin emotionally preparing your child (and yourself) for this new phase in life. Your attitude makes a big difference. Even if you are struggling with the idea of your little one going off to kindergarten, your goal is to deal with your emotions appropriately and prepare your child to make the most of this rite of passage.

    Tips to Help You Prepare Your Child

    • Visit the school where your child will be attending kindergarten.
    • If your child has not been in the care of someone other than Mom and Dad, allow your child to stay with other trusted adults prior to kindergarten to help them get used to another adult being in charge.
    • Plan activities with other children where your child has to learn to take turns and share.
    • Point out colors and shapes at the grocery store and count apples, bananas or cereal boxes.
    • Encourage active play, especially pretend-play, with other children.
    • Read, read, read.
    • Limit TV, computer, tablet or smartphone screen time.
    • Encourage independence in managing daily tasks. For example, teach your child how to tie their shoes, let them set the table, make their bed, dress themselves, etc.
    • Start your school routine early to help your child adjust to the change in schedule.

    Dealing with Your Emotions

    If this is your first child or your youngest child headed off to kindergarten, the transition may be more emotional than expected. Guard against behaviors that might upset your child. If you are anxious about being away from your child, talk with other parents who have already experienced it. Instead of going home to an empty house on the first day of school, plan to have coffee with a supportive friend.

    While it can be scary to leave your child at school, remember this: Most teachers love children dearly. They care about their social and emotional development as much as they care about their academic growth.

    Helping Your Child Through the First Week

    The first week can be especially hard for your child. Here are some ways to make it easier:

    • Be supportive. Adjusting to school may take time. Ask, "What was the most fun thing you did in school today?" Then ask, "What was the hardest thing for you?" Only ask this after you have discussed what was fun. Don't expect your child to tell you every detail.
    • Instill a sense of confidence in your child. Celebrate your child's successes. It takes time to adjust to new people, new activities and a new environment. Don't expect perfection.
    • Set aside a time each evening to share your child's day. See if your child has brought home any drawings, paintings or scribbling. After a few weeks have passed and your child has gotten used to school, ask about play in the classroom, stories the teacher read, recess, etc.
    • Read everything the school sends home. During the first weeks of school, children bring home a wealth of information about routines, important dates and meetings that you will need to know about. Make sure to check your child's backpack daily.
    • You may want to go over with your child — in a positive, calm way — the information you have supplied to the school on the emergency card. This includes who may pick your child up other than you, where she can go if you're ever not home, etc.

    For more insight on parenting, download our E-book "4 Ways to Stay Connected After Baby." Download Here


    Looking for more? Check out this episode of JulieB TV on this topic!


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    5 Ways You Can Prepare for a Great School Year

    Every fall, children head back to school. While some will be going for the first time, others will be making the transition to a new grade or perhaps even a new school.

    Transitioning into a new school year can be exciting, but some children are fearful. Thoughts about new teachers, concerns over moving to a new school or anxiety about a new grade are all things your child may be thinking, but not talking about.

    No matter the age of your child, this is an important time of year for them. Parents can help get the year off to a great start by establishing rituals and consistency around the school day.

    As human beings, we like to know what to expect, but this is especially true for children. When structure and consistency are missing in their lives, they tend to feel out of control, which can lead to acting out. The acting out behavior could range from temper tantrums to refusing to do homework or being disrespectful.

    When preparing for a new school year, it is the perfect time to establish a game plan to help your child launch into the school year on a positive note. Here are a few suggestions to help your child have a positive experience:

    • Talk with your children before school starts about the weeks ahead. For younger children, a trip to school is very important. What doesn’t seem scary to adults may be very scary to a young child. Take their feelings seriously. Decide how many extracurricular activities will be allowed.
    • Discuss emergency plans. What happens if your child gets sick? Who will pick up your children in the event of a crisis? Also, talk with your child about how you want them to deal with strangers.
    • Establish a morning and evening routine. These times can be hurried and stressful, creating anxiety for parents as well as children. Determine ahead of time what you expect. Will you eat breakfast together? What time do you expect your children to be out of bed and getting ready? Who packs lunches? What time should everybody be ready to leave the house? You might want to do a couple of practice runs prior to the start of school. Evening routines might include: setting out the clothes for the next day, putting all of the school gear in one place, and touching base as a family before going to bed. This can really help the morning be a more pleasant experience.
    • Make sure your child gets adequate rest. Whether you have young children or teens, research shows that they need around 10 hours of sleep.
    • Know your child. Be in touch with your child’s needs. When making decisions about homework, chores, television, etc., consider these questions: Is your child an early riser or a night owl? Do little things tend to stress them out? Consider different options for accomplishing tasks.

    When children see you taking their concerns about school seriously, they are more likely to be more excited and less anxious about the experience. Investing your time and effort will give your children the best chance for success.


    Looking for more? Check out this episode of JulieB TV on this topic!