Wow! Summer does go by quickly. But here we are; time to shift gears for the start of the fall season and, for many, the return to regular work, school, and college. Here at ITI-NJ, we hope you had a wonderful summer, filled with relaxing and memorable experiences shared together with your family and friends.
For those parents who will be preparing their children for a return to school, let's focus on the importance of nurturing and developing a culture of “teamwork” between parents and children to help this transition go as smoothly as possible.
As members of a team, each person is assigned roles and responsibilities to accomplish during a set time frame. The assigned roles should be fair, reasonable, and appropriate to each family member. For example, children may be assigned the responsibility to get themselves up, dressed, and finish their breakfast by a specific time. Since most children are very fairness-minded, emphasizing the importance of fairness often helps them to better accept and fulfill the responsibilities assigned to them. Moreover, when they fall short on fulfilling their responsibilities, emphasizing the principle of fairness often leads to more productive discussions and outcome on these issues.
A second recommendation I make to parents is to try to avoid yelling, coercion, and power struggles whenever possible. These parenting approaches tend to create resistance, resentment, and delay in children rather than the desired behavior of cooperativeness and collaboration. Instead, I typically recommend parents work to provide patience, encouragement, assistance (when needed) and efforts towards collaborative problem-solving. It may also be helpful to set aside a separate time to problem-solve situations (like getting out the door on time in the morning, completing homework in a timely manner, etc.) Sitting down with children and figuring out solutions together (when you are not in the midst of the problem-situation) provides everyone with opportunities to brain-storm ideas and develop better solutions. Moreover, when kids contribute their own ideas to such plans you may garner a greater degree of “buy-in“ from them as to whatever solution is reached during these meetings.