Going back to school can be exciting but also busy for families. Being intentional in bonding with your school aged child during this new school year can lead your family to success during the hard times throughout the year.
Keeping family time a focus during the busy school week. Scheduling family time in-between school, homework, extra-curricular activities, and parents work schedules can be challenging. Keep focusing on how you can be creative as a parent in connecting with your child, keeping the line of communication open for both of you.
Drive your child to and from school. If they are not driving and work allows it, utilize that time in the car as uninterrupted conversation time. It is a perfect time to get to know what is going on in your child’s life. If conversation is not flowing, find common music and have your own parent child jam session. Eventually you will be surprised at what you will be able to learn about your child once everyone is comfortable.
Schedule parent/child dates. Find something that your child really enjoys and schedule dates in your family calendar. Write it down so that you both commit to making it happen. It can be easy to talk about doing things, but making it happen requires persistence. When doing something you both enjoy together, conversation can happen naturally. Suggestions might be working out, finding a new trendy coffee shop, family game night at a local restaurant, play your child’s favorite video game together, or go after some Pokémon with Pokémon Go!
Listen to what your child has to say, instead of going with the natural default of taking control. One of the biggest fears for a parent is your child getting bullied at school. When your child shares their experiences, the best thing we can do as a parent is listen, empathize, and work together to find a way to move forward. For children the worst fear is that their parents will not hear them, will not believe them, or will overreact when they just needed someone to listen. Working together to find out how to handle the bullying situation allows your child to learn problem solving skills and grow trust for future communication.
Recognizing if your child is a minority in school. Your child might be the minority within your community. Find cultural events in your area, look for adoption focused support groups, connect with local area families from summer camps, and/or find local associations to join. As your child gets older there are things that as a multi-racial family you might not understand. Finding people to be a part of your child’s life that might understand what your child might be experiencing can make a huge difference. It takes a village to raise a child.
As parents we usually focus so much on bonding when our children are young, but focusing on bonding with pre-teens and teens can be more challenging. You might have to be more creative or get a little outside your comfort zone, but it can make a huge difference in your child’s life. Studies shows that teens who feel connected to their parents have a higher self-esteem and better social skills outside the home.
Other helpful links to finding fun ways to bond with your child: