This blog is inspired by a P.E.T. kid, who is now a P.E.T. Instructor—Melissa LaPlant! She knew she wanted to follow in her father’s P.E.T. steps (<-link to a short video on YouTube about this amazing journey) when she would sit in the back of his* P.E.T. classes, watching him help parents learn the communication and conflict resolution skills found in Parent Effectiveness Training.
Now she is offering her own P.E.T. classes! She share tips, stories and videos on her socials and we thought the back-to-school topic would be timely and helpful to parents. With her permission, we’re sharing some of her tips in this blog, so take it away, Melissa!
It’s “Back to School” season. Parenting can be a little (or a lot!) more challenging during this time. It is a big transition for both you and your kid. These big transitions can also mean BIG emotions. A new classroom, a new teacher, a new school, a new schedule, school for the first time, transitioning from half-day to full-day school. These are just some of the changes that are a normal part of starting the new school year.
Tips for a Successful Back to School Experience With Your Kid:
1. Start your school night and morning routines a few days ahead. This will allow your kid time to adjust to their new sleep and wake cycle and practice their morning and night responsibilities before school actually starts.
2. Visit the classroom and attend any scheduled orientations. This allows your kid to meet their teacher, see the classroom and meet their peers. This will help with those first day of school “jitters” or anxiety.
3. Give yourself and your kid grace. Be patient as you both transition into this new school year. Remember—you don’t need to be perfect. You are actually more effective when you are IMPERFECT. Communicate your feelings, needs…AND your mistakes…to your kid. They will learn the importance of mutual respect and open communication. Sometimes all your kid needs is just someone to listen to the worries, fears and anxieties of the “unknown.”
The beginning of the school year can be stressful for your kid. There are so many adjustments: new teachers, a different classroom, more homework, new class schedules, new friends…so many adjustments!
Anxiety in kids often increases as the new school year begins. The anxiety may not necessarily show on the outside. In fact, your kid may not even know that what they are feeling IS anxiety.
4. So over the next few weeks (and throughout the school year), I want you to spend a little more time in “active listening” mode with your kid. This means I want you to give them a little extra time to express themselves without any interpretation or problem solving from you.
5. If you see a behavior that seems out of the ordinary, dig deeper. By actively listening, you will allow your kid to express any possible anxieties, fears or concerns. Remember, our kids are incredibly capable of solving their own problems. Sometimes they just need to “talk it out”. Even happy and smiling kids can have anxiety.
6. If you see signs of more concerning anxiety in your kid, take action. These are just a few examples of what that might look like: withdrawal, extreme changes in eating or behaviors, extreme emotional outbursts that do not improve. Talk to your kid’s pediatrician if you have concerns about extreme anxiety in your kid that might be having a negative impact on their ability to perform in school.
Thank you, Melissa! And here’s her website if you’d like to learn more and/or sign up for one of her P.E.T. classes.
*Melissa’s dad, Angel Moreno, volunteers at a local community Christian center and will be teaching the class in September, 2023, to women transitioning back to their communities after serving prison time, coming out of various dependency treatments, or who are homeless. WOW.