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School days are upon us once again. The running joke among many parents is that there is this collective sense of rejoice. There are only so many hours of expressed boredom and Fortnite battles one can take. The quota was met back in June. Now, our kids can spend more time at school, pouring over books, learning something new and give Mom and Dad a break.
That, of course, is a joke. Kinda.
Some of our kids are crossing over a new threshold this coming school year. Kindergartners, first-year junior and senior high schoolers, college freshmen — new surroundings and expanded expectations are thrust upon these children and young adults. It is akin to us adults to landing a new job, learning the office politics, growing into your role and satisfying your supervisor. Your failure to do any of those things can lead to problems. So, it should come as no surprise that our kids suffer a similar challenge once they move on to a new school environment.
These are the triggers mentioned by the experts we spoke with in this week’s feature on anxiety. Place yourselves into the shoes of these kids, and it’s easy to relate. You only have to apply their challenges with the ones you face on a daily basis. Attempt to remember how your days were in school, and you’ll miss the point. You won’t be able to relate. The social landscape you navigated, or conveniently forget stumbling, through is not the same today. Here’s one way we can all relate: there is no escape.
One social aspect that was not touched upon in our article is the topic of bullying. It’s prevalence can not be overstated. Children as young as elementary school age are committing suicide. It used to be that if kids were having a bad day, they could hide in within the comfort of their room. There was no one walking through the front door. The house, the bedroom, was safety. Introducing your kids to social media channels breaks down that front door. Bullies have a means of getting to your kid, and have an infinite number of people to whom they can call upon as an audience, even elementary school kids.
Today, schools appear to be taking steps to address bullying. It has serious consequences, and schools should hold themselves accountable for establishing a safe environment for all. It’s not an easy task, but it involves getting to know each student, and paying close attention.
But, it’s not all on the teachers. Parents need to be just as diligent, and that means paying attention to the uncomfortable realization that your child is the bully. Let us rephrase that, it should be uncomfortable. It should be alarming. It should force you to account for your actions and spring you into doing something about it. Your child, after all, is a direct reflection of you. Don’t, for one second, relinquish yourself from the responsibility of raising your child because you think he or she is their own person. If your child is under your roof, you’re obligated to make sure he or she is becoming the person of which you can be proud. Actually, even if your child is 45 and has kids of his own, you can still smack him in the back of the head for speaking disrespectfully towards the mother of his children.
Once you’re a parent, you are always a parent. Step in and speak to your child. Be that support system for him or her. We as adults have developed the self confidence and have learned the coping skills to survive the challenges of the day. Our kids are still just learning. Be respectful of their fears and concerns. They are very real, and they deserve your attention.
Michael Hallisey is managing editor of Spotlight Newspapers.