School is right around the corner. I’ve seen lots of parents, lists in hand, browsing Target purchasing school supplies. It feels like the lists get longer every year, doesn’t it? Those school supplies, while they’re important, aren’t nearly as crucial as some of the skills and principles your child needs in his emotional and spiritual back pack as he heads out the door to school.
In these final few weeks before school starts here are some ideas for you of what to put in your child’s mind and heart as they before they head out the door to school:
Let them know God is on their side. It is crucially important that your child knows that God loves him and is cheering for him from heaven. In fact, this is so important that you might consider creating a special card with the words on it, “God is for you!” and, a verse that underscores God’s love printed on it. Laminate the card and put it in your child’s backpack. Help them remember the card is there to remind them that God is for them. When they encounter friend difficulties, rejection from peers, or bullying of any kind the card will help them remember God is on their side!
Give them one verse to memorize before school starts. I would recommend a verse that will help them when they feel afraid. One of the verses that we had our kids memorize before school started was Joshua 1:9, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Whether your child is riding a school bus, dealing with text anxiety, or fearful of being bullied if this verse is embedded in their minds, the Holy Spirit will remind them and use it as a tool to calm their nerves.
Strengthen their gender identity. Dads, you need to step it up here. If you have sons, take them out one on one and remind them that their peers may tease them but it is God who formed their gender in the womb. They may feel confused at times, but they can trust God to develop their sense of manhood. Whether your child is a girl or a boy, talk about God’s plan for male and female and help them celebrate their gender. This doesn’t mean holding your daughter back from sports, all our girls played sports. Simply celebrate their gender with them and create a safe atmosphere at home where they can share their fears with you. In school your child is going to likely hear all different sorts of views, so prepare them. Don’t fill them with fear – fill them with confidence.
Practice their friendship making skills. Kids who have friends are happier. So help your child out. Talk about how to make friends. Model for them, learning to ask great questions, learning to affirm others, learning to meet other people, learning to include others and other vital friendship skills. Talk about why you value these skills. Help them understand that Jesus had great people sills. If you want to help them learn these skills in a fun way take them on a date to a restaurant and have them practice meet and greet skills with the server.
Reassure them of your love and prayers. Your child can never hear enough that you love and believe in them and that you’re praying for them. Please not: this doesn’t mean you’re going to ignore it when they misbehave. Often parents have difficulty believing their child can do anything wrong. The truth is every child is a sinner and capable of wrong doing. If the teacher notifies you that your child is misbehaving in school, sit down and have the conversation with your child and decide on some consequences. Reassure them that you love them but because you love them you are going to call them to change. Your job as a parent is to love them unconditionally just as God loved you, but also to help shape behavior.
Let them know every day as they leave the house that you are praying. You’re praying that they feel confident, that they make the right choices, that they remember how much God loves them and that they will reflect Jesus to others in their school. Your prayers will give them an extra layer of protection against any weapon the enemy forms against them.
I’d love to hear from you. Do you have an idea of what else children need as they head back to school? Share your idea here.