Back to School | Every Kid Needs This

Going back to school is a bigger adjustment than a lot of us might remember. Kids change so much over the summer months, and sometimes drastically! Each of them has a unique story when they return. “Write about something fun you did over the break.” (I can’t help but wonder what mine will say. What will yours? — What are their first thoughts!?)

I want to build sarcasm here, unveil stories of mayhem in my home, a wild blend of chaos and comedy. It doesn’t take long to come up with a response about something fun we did. (I have three boys, so imagine if you will, — or maybe you’re in the same boat. There’s been a lot going on here:)

But what I’m about to share doesn’t follow that lead. I’m writing with a much heavier heart.

You guys, summer isn’t fun for everyone. Regardless of rough patches, you and I might have had a good laugh with our kids, experienced some sort of adventure, or even a sentimental outing — but we know every home is different. Ignorance isn’t bliss, of course, and we need to see beyond our circle.

It’s safe to say, most kids used technology these past several weeks. Their whereabouts, varied and broad. Our kids are soon to be sitting in a classroom full of diverse and knowledgeable little people!

While opportunity grows, it’s a scary realization. Some of our kids’ classmates have crossed dangerous bounds over the summer break. And maybe their parents have no idea about it. Internet freedom opens doors with little trace, but often leaves internal pain and unresolved emotion. Having seen things that they never should, and done things they regret, many kids return from break with heartache and fear.

And they walk into class, now dressed for success, but taking steps with weighted feet. Unnoticeably, these kids have been transformed within. Regret, shame, and fear are the forefront of their path each day. And for some, this has been happening under the roof of a caring home.

Ugh, well that’s heavy.

I know.

I do know.

It’s heavy for our tender hearts, but imagine how much heavier it is for them. — To feel buried beneath the rubble, to feel isolated and alone, to live fearfully, in repercussion. Don’t turn your ear from these things, just because they make you sad. If you feel for the situation, stand up on their behalf!

Technology isn’t the derivative for every situation, but these ideas remind us that some kids will return with hard to handle behaviors, often as a reflection of pain. Classrooms are a melting pot of intricate people, and conflict is only natural.

Support for relationships and peer engagement is a year-round need, but it’s especially crucial after breaks like these. It seems that greatest school supply is a soft heart, empathy.

These are some things I’m aiming to remind my kids about. What would you add?

A Soft Heart | Back to School

  • Everyone is created with purpose and value, and you should honor that. You should never look down on anyone else, and you should respect other people’s differences. How can you respond to others with care, even when they are not kind or easy to understand? How can you communicate with them respectfully?

  • Boundaries are healthy, but they need to be communicated kindly. Learn to work together, yes even with difficult people. You will not get along with every person, everywhere. And that is ok! This will be true for your entire life. Respect is not the same as trust, emotional connection, or vulnerability. Respect is kind, assertive, and thoughtful. You can respect people, without having a friendship.

  • Be a good friend, and find people who reciprocate. Especially at school, friendship becomes confusing. Kids see the same group every day, and it’s hard to discern expectations for relationship. This is how you know and become a true friend: Friends actively seek the best for each other. They use energy to build one another up, and they intentionally encourage the right path for one another. Not everyone at school will be your friend. Keep expectations realistic and meaningful with people around you. Be the kind of friend you want others to be for you.

  • Treat others the way you want to be treated. Remember that everyone is experiencing trials, and no one is perfect. When you feel challenged to be kind, ask yourself this question. ‘How would you want to be spoken to, or responded to, if the tables were turned?’

  • Ask for help if you need it. This seems really self-explanatory, but it’s not always a first response, especially as kids get older. They don’t want to tattle, or they feel weak if they can’t handle a situation themselves. But sometimes we need help, and there is nothing bad about that. — Even us adults need to remember, it is more than ok to ask for help!

As we set off toward this new school year, I hope it is a beautiful beginning for you and your family!

As always, thank you for joining here! Together we Thrive ~