Blog backtoschool

Guest Post by Dr. Meg Meeker

Hopeful and Scared: Back-to-School Emotions

Is summer getting shorter, or is it just me? June flies into August and as soon as smoke from the Fourth of July fireworks leaves our nostrils, we are back at Staples tossing binders and pencil cases into our carts. Here we are again.

Each new school year brings a wide range of emotions. We are hopeful that this year, our daughter will meet classmates who won’t make fun of her. Our son will do better in math. Our teenager will make the varsity soccer team. We are hopeful, but we are scared. What if this year is worse than last year? Some of us march into September holding our breath. But we don’t need to. There are a few things we can do to help get the year moving in the right direction for ourselves and our kids.

Be Proactive, Not Fearful

First, we can decide to parent proactively, not fearfully. So many decisions we make for our kids stem from fear rather than strength. We manipulate schedules to make sure our daughter has the “right” first grade teacher, scared that if she gets the “wrong” one, her year will be miserable. Who says? We make our 16-year-old hit the gym every morning in the summer so that he’ll have a leg up when he tries out for varsity soccer. We can’t see him get cut from the team again.

I suggest that rather than push and prod our young ones into places we feel they should be, we give them breathing room. We mustn’t be afraid for our kids, that they’ll get the wrong teacher or not make the team. Some of these are important life-defining moments. More importantly, we must teach them that they are tough enough to handle what life gives them.

Ny2013 bv budget1

Help Them Develop A Positive Attitude

Second, we can help them develop a positive attitude toward school. If your son loves language but hates science, go to the library and get him a Spanish version of a book series he enjoys, and ask him questions about it. Read books together and casually chat about them. If your daughter hates sports but likes math, ask her if she would like to be in a math club or start one. Don’t make her play basketball, but ask her to go on walks or bike rides in the evenings with you. In other words, be enthusiastic about her strengths and downplay the things that bore her. When parents playfully (not competitively) invest themselves in their child’s interests, kids respond.

Put Them To Sleep

Finally, nothing helps foster a positive attitude more than adequate rest. Like clockwork, parents haul exhausted first graders and teens into my office starting in November. Many worry about leukemia, brain tumors or mono. These maladies are far rarer than simple lack of sleep. Don’t let this happen to your child. Before school starts, rein in bedtime and help his body establish a healthy sleep rhythm. Healthy hormone regulation depends on adequate sleep. Most kids fight sleep, so you need to help.

Great education begins at home. Kids adopt attitudes from their loved ones—especially parents. If we talk to them as though they can handle the curveballs that life brings, live with positive, grateful attitudes, and establish calm routines at home, life goes well. These are small changes for us, but they bring enormous changes in our kids.

Parenting is never complete, but the great news is you never have to go at it alone! Make a commitment right now to gain valuable wisdom from others this year. Meg Meeker’s books are some of Dave’s absolute favorites, and he recommends them all the time to The Dave Ramsey Show listeners.

Pediatrician, wife, mother and best-selling author of six books, Dr. Meg Meeker is one of the country’s leading experts on parenting, teens and children’s health.

More from the Blog

5 Money Lessons Learned From the Gridiron

There is more to football than championships, tailgating and fantasy drafts. Here are five life lessons you can learn from the popular sport.

5 Money-Saving Tricks for a Happier Halloween

Americans love Halloween. It’s frightening what we spend each year on candy, costumes, and carved pumpkins. Try these five simple tricks to stay on budget this season.

25 Myths Broke People Believe

We asked Dave’s blog readers and radio listeners for the most common excuses they hear from friends and family who are up to their eyeballs in debt and unwilling to change.

Why It’s Okay to Enjoy Wealth

Spiritually mature people don’t credit their success to themselves or to their work ethic, and their lives don’t revolve around the pursuit of wealth. Get Dave's take in an excerpt from The Legacy Journey.

15 Insider Tips for Your Next Debt-Free Vacation

Dave’s Facebook Fans shared how they saved cash this summer while enjoying a week of work-free and debt-free bliss. Here are their top 15 money-saving tips.

Fall Fun for the Budget-Conscious Family

Since Dave Ramsey’s Facebook fans always have great ideas to share, we asked them how they enjoy fall activities without spending a fortune.