FROM THE SUPERINTENDENT’S DESK
Letting the Small Things Go
The start of a new school year presents a variety of exciting opportunities for your child. As with any new situation, however, there are also challenges to be met, and these can be stressful for the child if he or she doesn’t receive support and guidance along the way. It’s important for parents to distinguish between real obstacles and the “small stuff,” the little things that your child can learn to manage easily with your help. How do we know the difference? A good guideline is to ask yourself whether the challenge your child is facing is likely to produce long-term problems if the situation continues, or whether it’s simply a matter of short-term disappointment that may resolve itself in time. Significant struggles with academic or social issues are among the “big things” that may require intervention.
If you’re concerned about your child’s ability to handle a situation, make an appointment with your child’s teacher and be prepared with a list of issues you think may be causing your child tension. On the other hand, when children are disappointed because they didn’t get the teacher they wanted, the lunch period of their choice, or the same bus stop as their friends, these are matters that, with a little encouragement, they can learn to accept. Your child may not be in the same class with his or her friends, but that can provide an opportunity to meet new people and make some new friends. In fact, little obstacles often present excellent opportunities to help your children take an optimistic outlook and become more resilient.
As parents, we all want our children to be happy, and we care deeply about every issue that affects their emotional well-being. When they’re upset, it’s natural for us to want to “fix” things. But our frustration or anxiety over these smaller matters can actually have the exact opposite effect. When a parent reacts with negativity, the child will be more inclined to experience the situation as a problem rather than an obstacle to overcome. When these issues arise, talk with your child and point out as many good things as you can about the situation. Set the example in your own behavior by not allowing insignificant matters to become more important than they really are. Disappointments are a fact of life, but letting go of the little things will help make the big issues more manageable. #
Dr. Carole Hankin is the superintendent of Syosset schools, Long Island, N.Y.