By Virginia Hrywnak DO,
Deputy Executive Director of Healthy Learning Paths, imperfect parent of 2 school-aged daughters, family physician, avid reader, hiker, and weed-puller
It’s August and the start of school is just around the corner. As we prepare for sending our kids back to school, we often shop for school supplies, buy back-to-school clothes and shoes, get haircuts, and replace the summer routine with the new school schedule. As you help your kids prepare for the upcoming school year consider adding these 12 items to your “To Do List.”
- Tell your kids you love them, every day, whether they’re 5 or 15.
- Teach them how and why to be kind. It’s a skill like any other. Kindness needs to be taught.
- Actively listen when kids talk. Unplug from electronics and LISTEN.
- Eat breakfast every day, EVERYDAY. Your brain is starving. Dinner was a long time ago.
- Eat fresh fruits and veggies every day. Are your kids picky eaters? You’re not alone. Keep trying.
- Drink water and non-fat milk instead of soda or juice. If you don’t buy soda and juice, kids learn to drink water and milk.
- PLAY outside. Use a ball, frisbee, chase the dog, make an obstacle course, or walk. Just play. Have you heard? Play is exercise.
- Kids and adults are sleep-deprived. Go to bed. Turn off the TV and computer. Practice the same bedtime routine every night. Might seem hard at first, but your brain, mood, and body will thank you. Kids will thank you with happiness each morning!
- Have a concern about something your kid does or says? Look into it, get help, talk to your kid, the teacher, or your doctor. Don’t ignore it. Most problems don’t get better on their own.
- Let your kids fail in small, safe ways. Yes, FAIL. When you rescue them from everything, kids learn a) parents don’t believe kids can handle it, and b) success or achievement is more important than effort and enthusiasm. The stakes only get higher as kids get older. Offer gentle guidance, so kids can learn how to solve problems.
- Post this article on your refrigerator for a daily reminder.
- Read this advice from Maya Angelou with your kids. Start it. Share it. Live it.
“I’ve learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow. I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights. I’ve learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you’ll miss them when they’re gone from your life. I’ve learned that making a “living” is not the same thing as making a “life.” I’ve learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance. I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw some things back. I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision. I’ve learned that even when I have pains, I don’t have to be one. I’ve learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone. People love a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back. I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn. I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”—Maya Angelou