Table of Contents - September 2007
Feature Article- "Helping
Your Child with September Transitions"
Positive Parenting Tip- Lessons in Encouragement
A Good Read - "Family Games"
Free Time- Schedule It!
Helping Your Child with September Transitions
every day in your child’s world and September,
like no other month, is a time of transitions
for your child. Starting a new grade. Getting a
new teacher. Learning new classroom rules.
Adding more homework. No matter what the
transition, you can expect an added level of
stress as your child adapts to the change.
When making the transition to a new grade, your
child will be challenged by more rigorous
academic challenges, more social demands and
more responsibility. Your child will have to
follow the rules, take turns, make new friends,
learn harder material and try to meet the
requirements of a new teacher(s).
It takes a lot of energy, focus and control to
keep it together all day long at school, so most
kids will be tired and you’ll see an increase in
temper tantrums, whining and defiance at home.
Don’t take it personally! Recognize the stress
that your child is under!
The best response to stress is to provide
empathy and support, help the child gain a sense
of control, create rituals that provide
predictability and teach your child ways to
Way to Show Empathy:
A.) Listen - Become an “empathic
listener” by listening for feelings.
Listen for the
unspoken feelings that are behind the words
that are said.
Look at your
child’s body language and try to gain
Give your child
your full attention by sitting down, looking
him/her in the eye.
Try to reflect
back the feeling that you believe your child
open-ended questions. i.e. What will you
miss about preschool? What do you like about
your new teacher? What’s the hardest part of
C.) Share a story from your childhood.
The point here is to share a struggle that you
had and the different feelings that you
experienced. If you found a process that helped
you overcome the struggle, share that, too.
important point to understand is that
transitions involve a sense of loss:
A loss of fun. “I want to play with a friend
now. I don’t want to do homework!”
A loss of spontaneity. “I’m tired and I’d rather
have a jammy day than get dressed and go to
Or a loss of my classroom as I know it. “This
teacher is different. I liked my other teacher!”
Generally, when a child feels a sense of
loss s/he feels a loss of control and a
beneficial strategy is to help the child gain a
sense of control. So how do you do that?
your child in the decision. Ask your
child, “What might help you feel more
B.) Walk your child through the process,
explaining how it will go. Knowledge is
C.) Show visual aids such as reading
books on the subject.
D.) Explain the benefits so the child
can learn the positives.
E.) Slow down the pace. Give your
child a chance to wind down or to say
F.) Learn to read your child’s cues
and help him/her learn to identify them,
strategy for reducing the stress of changes is
to create a ritual. Family rituals help your
child adjust to change. A ritual can be simple
or elaborate, used daily, weekly, or once a
year. The reason that rituals are important is
that rituals help make the world predictable and
the repetition helps kids feel more secure when
transitions are occurring.
Rituals that Can Help with Transitions:
a goodbye ritual. Develop a secret
handshake with your child that’s used only
when s/he leaves for school.
B.) Develop an after-school ritual. Let
your child have a snack and play outside for
30 minutes before starting homework.
C.) Develop a “chit-chat” time at bedtime.
Ask your child about the happy, sad,
scary and frustrating parts to his/her day.
D.) Develop an end-of-the-week ritual.
Have a family night every Friday night to
reconnect and unwind after a busy week.
increases a child’s anxiety level because
there is a loss of the familiar and the
uncertainty of the future so finding safe,
healthy outlets for a child’s anxiety is
important, as well. Teaching your child how to
soothe him/herself and providing calming
activities will be a great help.
Physical Touch – Make a conscious effort
to hug and kiss more often, snuggle more or
provide massage to your child.
B.) Teach a Deep Breathing Method.
(Pretend that there’s a balloon in his/her
tummy that s/he has to blow up. Actually use
a balloon to illustrate. The technique you
want to have the child use is to breathe in
through the nose and breathe out through the
mouth, actually moving the diaphragm while
pretending to blow up the balloon with big,
C.) Consider Dramatics - Let your
child use his/her imagination. “Let’s
pretend that you’re the fairy godmother.”
Get a wand. Let’s see what the fairy
godmother would do to solve this problem.
Create a movie, play or story about this
problem. Play “School” to see what issues
your child may be facing.
D.) Spend Time Alone with the Child –
Let the child pick what the activity will be
and focus on your child’s needs.
E.) Laugh – Find your own ways to be
silly, have a kids’ joke book on hand, do
something unexpected, watch your favorite
F.) Give Your Child a Journal –
Writing about a problem can release pent-up
feelings in a healthy way.
G.) Create a Scrapbook. Have your
child participate in the creation of the
book and reminisce at the child’s
there are many useful strategies that you can
use when your child is faced with a transition,
large or small:
empathy recognizing that your child may feel
a sense of loss.
Help your child
gain a sense of control by involving him/her
ritual to create predictability.
and calming activities.
classes from the comfort of home! You'll join other
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classes when you participate
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and A. on Back-to-School Transitions" - Thurs.,
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Details to come on registering.
10-week Parenting Class
begins. Parents will pick the topics.
Tues. Sept. 11 and 25, Noon – 1 p.m., Dorsey and
“The 7 Worst Parenting Mistakes (And How to Avoid
Them!)" - Tues., Sept. 18 – 11:30 a.m. –
Medtronic World Headquarters.
"Relief for Homework Headaches" - Wed., Sept.
19, Noon – 1 p.m.- Webinar for Kennedy and Coe.
“The 7 Worst Parenting Mistakes (And How to Avoid
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Toni Schutta is a national speaker who offers 17
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Positive Parenting Tip
Whether your child is nervous about making new
friends, meeting a new teacher or living up to
what’s expected academically, I’d like to share a
very valuable insight called “lessons in
encouragement” from the book “Raising Your Spirited
Child” by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka, which I highly
Kurcinka was at swimming lessons with her child and
observed a little boy who was sobbing by the side of
the pool, petrified because he did NOT want to go to
his swim lesson. Kurcinka watched as the mother
responded with empathy and care and calls this
“lessons in encouragement” which she writes about in
her book. I think it has valuable advice for all of
us, so I want to share it with you.
Lessons in Encouragement:
I will support you. The mom immediately
gave her son a hug when she recognized that he
was afraid. Her hug communicated to the child “I
am here for you. I understand. I am not angry. I
will help you.”
Encouragement helps us understand our
feelings and know that others have felt that
way, too. The mom asked the boy what he was
feeling inside? How did his tummy feel? His
heart? His head? She said “That’s fear. You
haven’t had swimming lessons before and your
body is telling you to be careful. I feel fear
Encouragement allows us time to think and an
opportunity to observe so that we feel in
control. The mom said it’s Ok to watch first
and see how other people kick their feet and
move their arms in the water. Then you can plan
what you do.
Encouragement builds bridges from our past
success to the present situations. The mom
reminded him of a time when he hated to have his
hair washed and how he does it by himself now.
She then expressed confidence that he could take
on this new task.
Encouragement helps us see the parts of a
task so we don’t feel overwhelmed and allows us
to choose when we are ready. The child sat
on the edge of the pool and practiced kicking
his feet for the first day.
Encouragement takes time. That was enough
for day one. The boy didn’t feel like a failure.
He didn’t feel pushed. He felt encouraged,
capable and ready for success.
(Reference - pp. 160-161, “Raising Your Spirited
A Good Read
Each month a parent
provides a review of a parenting book they've
enjoyed. Please e-mail
email@example.com to share a good
read with other parents.
“The Treasury of
Family Games: Hundreds of Fun Games for All Ages –
Complete with Rules and Strategies” by Jim Glenn and
This book contains over 200 games that would be fun
to play as a family. The book is divided into six
sections: board games, card games, party games,
games to play anywhere, indoor games and outdoor
games. By each game there’s a summary of how many
people can play the game, the equipment needed, the
ages of people who can play and how long it takes to
The book’s a good resource for planning parties or
to have on hand for family fun. Unlike some books,
the instructions are very clear on how to play the
games and the visuals are helpful, too.
What does your family
do for fun that doesn’t cost a lot of money? Please
share your ideas.
As you schedule activities for your child this fall
be sure to schedule in unstructured free time. A new
report by the American Academy of Pediatrics notes
that many children are overscheduled which can lead
to stress, anxiety and even depression. The AAP
report says that free time is essential for a
child’s emotional health, social development and
Carefully select a limited number of activities that
your child truly enjoys, instead of feeling
pressured to keep up with the Joneses. “The
challenge for society, schools and parents is to
strike the balance that allows all children to reach
their potential, without pushing them beyond their
personal comfort limits and while allowing them
personal free time, “ the report states.
The use of “true toys” like dolls, building blocks,
art supplies, costumes, etc. that allow children to
use their imagination is highly recommended.
Toni Schutta, Publisher, Families First Coaching Newsletter
Toni Schutta is a Parent Coach with a Master's
Degree in Psychology and 13 years experience working
with children and families. She's also the mother of
two wonderful children, a Licensed Psychologist, a
certified graduate of the Mentor Coach Foundations
Program and a member of the International Coach
Families First Coaching
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