The start of a new school year can be exciting, but it can also make your child feel anxious, especially if last year was a rough one, or if he or she is entering a new school. There are a lot of great back-to-school tips online (e.g., get on a good sleep schedule before school starts, get organized the day before, eat a good breakfast, know your class schedule and syllabus). So instead of rehashing what’s already out there, here are 4 back to school tips that may surprise you.
1. Start new
You are different than you were a year ago. Sure, summer is just a couple of months long, and you may not feel like a completely new person, but a lot can happen over a summer (such as new experiences, new friends or a growth spurt). Returning to the school environment may automatically pull at you to act like you did last year, but recognize that it’s up to you. Were you mean to others? Make it a point to be nice. Did you complain a lot? Start looking for the good in people and situations. Did you make poor decisions? Use better judgment this year. If last year wasn’t your best, now is the time to reinvent yourself and be the person you have wanted to be.
2. Not everyone has to like you
And that’s okay. Identify your values and stick to them (e.g., being kind to others, working hard at school, avoiding alcohol and drugs). You don’t always have to make friends and classmates “proud” of you, especially if doing so violates your own values. When you stick to your values, others will usually respect that, even if they don’t show it. The first couple of weeks back to school tend to seem a little socially chaotic as everyone is trying to find their place in the “social ladder of popularity.” However, having just a couple close friends can be more important and rewarding than having tons of surface-level friends.
3. Grades are important, but so is being well-rounded
Starting the new school year with the goal of earning good grades is great and certainly important, so go for it! But working hard at school and learning how to recover from setbacks can be just as important in achieving your dreams. If you feel super anxious about classes, schedule an occasional 10 to15 minute worry time to allow yourself to be anxious about them. Then move on so that it doesn’t control the rest of your week or negatively impact your grades. Most employers and colleges are not only interested in your GPA; they also want to know if you have a life outside of your studies. If, after trying your best, you’re not a straight A/B student, identify what else you’re good at and then do it. A student with a lower GPA who also volunteers in the community still shows well-roundedness.
4. Your parents can be your greatest ally
This may sound cliché, or maybe it sounds surprising, but many of the most successful and emotionally healthy kids at school know this to be true. Are you being pressured to go to a beginning-of-the-school-year party where you think you might be pressured to violate your values and you don’t want to go because you’re afraid of sounding uncool or judgmental? Most likely your parents would be willing to take the blame (e.g., “Sorry, my parents already have something planned for us tonight that I can’t get out of”). If your parents are like most, they are in your corner cheering you on for an amazing start to a new school year, even if it’s not obvious. Sometimes you may just have to listen more closely to their cheers. Or kindly ask them to cheer louder.
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