The start of a new school year will be here before we know it. Registration papers are all turned in. Your child may have already picked out a backpack with a matching lunch box to boot. The school supply lists are posted and every retail store is stocked for back-to-school shopping. However, are new supplies all a kid needs to be ready for “Back to School?”
Unless you homeschool, if your child goes to a private, public, or charter school, social pressures and inappropriate discussions are bound to come up at some point. So how do we prepare our kids to face situations beyond the textbook?
When my son was young, he would often get off the bus and ask me questions like why that boy uses swear words, or why are kids mean to others. Then I ran across a quote from an unknown author that stuck and I still refer to it now that my son is entering high school.
“Boats don’t sink because of the water around them, they sink when the water gets inside them.”— Author unknown
1. Teach your kids that their environment does not define them
When we see behaviors or language around us, we can choose not to let it be a part of us. As a young boy, my son decided that even though the boy on the bus was swearing, he didn’t have to repeat that language or let it be a part of who he was. The quote is still valuable as he sees behaviors in other teens and he knows he has the choice to block those behaviors from being a part of who he is. It is an empowering thought to recognize that just because things happen around you, you don’t need to be a part of them. You can choose to be set apart!
2. Teach your child to seek God throughout the day
There is no way to prepare a child for every situation they will face, but we can give them tools to help them come up with solutions even when we are not around.
“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).
Teach your child to trust God. To know Him and to seek His help and direction. Even a young child can learn this. Being away from mom and dad at school can be scary for young students. Teaching them they can talk to God and ask for His help throughout the day can be a source of comfort and can help timid children have confidence.
Older students may need to make decisions about what classes to take and what social groups they should join. Teaching an older child the different ways to seek God’s will like prayer, reading the Bible, and seeking wise counsel has eternal significance.
You know you have prepared your child well when they come home from school, share a problem they had during their day, and then tell you they prayed about it and came up with a solution. As a mom, I want to fix everything for them, but the greatest gift is seeing that my kids are seeking God and solving problems without me. That is how I know they will be able to overcome the more difficult trials in life. School is just a great place to practice.
3. Teach your kids that other people do not get to say who they are — God does
A child with a clear understanding of who they are will have an easier time shaking off comments from other kids when not appropriate. Show them who God says they are in His Word. There are numerous verses about who God says we are and adults can benefit from these too! Here are a few I recommend:
“To all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12).
“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).
“And if children, then heirs — heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him” (Romans 8:1).
Teaching young children who they are in Christ and reminding them of this throughout their teen years will be valuable beyond their school years.
Now is a great time to start these conversations. Equip your kids before sending them off to school this year. These tools will be more valuable than any school supply item on that list.
Debbie Ryan is a Public Relations Specialist with CCM. In addition to being a wife and mom, Debbie is passionate about health and wellness, and encourages others in healthy living every chance she gets.
By Debbie Ryan, Op-ed Contributor
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Originally published on The Christian Post
(c) The Christian Post, used with permission