The beginning of the school year is always an exciting time. Things get busy and everyone’s schedule changes. Even what you buy at the grocery store changes to accommodate quick breakfasts and snacks for after school activities. The older our children get, the more they do on their own. Sometimes we love their new found independence. I remember being excited when my children could pack their lunch and get to school on their own. And, sometimes we miss being able to help them. I remember being worried that they would not spend their money wisely or get to activities on time. As our children become more independent, we must learn to let go and trust that they can handle themselves.
But, that doesn’t happen over night. You want your child to learn to understand him/herself over time. When you think about it, having a relationship with oneself is an additive process the evolves throughout our entire life. While children become more and more interested in the question “who am I?” as they enter the teen years, you can help them be grounded in who they are at an early age. This is important because knowing oneself promotes independent thought and the ability to make decisions that align with personal and family values. It also makes it easier for a child to ask for help when they need it because they know when something is beyond their knowledge or ability. Plus, children who know themselves are more likely to accept themselves, especially when you point out their strengths. Pointing out their strengths helps them recognize what makes them unique.
So, while it is easy to get caught up in the day-to-day logistics of a new school year, don’t forget that there are other ways to support their adjustment. I recently came across this great list of questions that help you child know themselves better and some of them relate to starting a new school year. Of course, you don’t want to just sit down and grill your child with these questions. You can use them as conversation starters when you have some alone time. Or, you can make a game out of it and ask each other one question every day. Posting them on the refrigerator can be a good reminder.
Here’s the list of questions. Have fun with them!
- What are your strengths?
- If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be? Why?
- What are your goals for this school year?
- Who do you talk to when you have a problem? How do they help?
- What do you like to do for fun?
- What are you worried about?
- What do you wish your parents knew about you? What do you wish your friends or classmates knew about you?
- If you could have one wish, what would it be?
- What do you feel ashamed of?
- Where do you feel safest?
- If you weren’t afraid, what would you do?
- What does failure mean to you? Have you ever felt like a failure? How did you cope?
- How can you tell that you’re getting angry? What does your body feel like? What are you thinking?
- How are you different?
- What’s something that adults (parents, grandparents, teachers, etc.) say to you that’s really stuck with you? Do you think they’re right?
- What do you do when people don’t seem to like you?
- What is your proudest accomplishment?
- What things are in your control? What’s out of your control? How does it feel to notice that some things are out of your control?
- What do you like about your school? What do you dislike?
- What do you do when you’re stressed out?
- What’s something nice you could say to yourself?
- What is your happiest memory?
- What do you do when you’re feeling down? Do you think it’s OK to cry? Do you think it’s OK to yell?
- What is your favorite book? Movie? Band? Food? Color? Animal?
- What are you grateful for?
- What do you like about yourself?