It’s back-to-school time! For my district in particular, school for students begins tomorrow! That means much of my time over the weekend has consisted of last minute shopping for clothes, supplies, shoes, and backpacks for my kiddos. The malls and stores were packed with parents eagerly taking advantage of the tax- free items on sale, while their children enjoyed choosing and receiving brand new merchandise. What an exciting time!
I especially enjoy this time of year because it signifies the beginning of a fresh start. All students have another opportunity to make the school year great. New goals can (and should) be implemented in every area: academically, socially, spiritually, and physically. Along with many successes, however, students will face many pressures and deadlines. Several challenges will undoubtedly arise.
As parents, let’s do our best to equip our children so that they are able to withstand the pressures and demands placed on them this year. Three ways we can set our children up for success are:
1. Remind them who they are. If your child is not hearing how valuable and loved they are on a regular basis, they will believe what other people tell them. Kids these days are being taunted and bullied for any and every reason under the sun. It can be about their style, their looks, their possessions, their abilities (or lack thereof), etc., which means that they need to hear affirming words from YOU in every area. Continue to shape their identity in a way that aligns with the Word of God. They are His special treasure (Deuteronomy 7:6), chosen by Him for great works (Ephesians 2:10)!
2. Remind them of what they can do. Increasing amounts of projects, tests, homework, practices, rehearsals, club meetings, and/or assignments can easily overwhelm any student. The pressure placed on them to perform well in each of these areas can be daunting. Help make sure your child is balancing his/her time well and is not taking on more than they can handle. Even as adults, we sometimes fall into the trap of saying “yes” to more responsibilities than we should. While it’s great for students to be active and involved, it’s better to encourage them to focus on what’s manageable (of course, this varies for every student), so that they perform with excellence. At the same time, they need to know you believe in them! Remind them of how competent and intelligent they are, and that they “can do all things through Christ who strengthens them (Philippians 4:13).”
3. Remind them to put on their armor. Children and teens are being exposed to more negative peer pressure than ever before. Who they hang out with and what they have access to can easily influence the trajectory of their decisions. What we have to remind ourselves, as well as our children, is that they battle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities of darkness (Ephesians 6:12). Therefore, they need to put on the full armor of God which includes: the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the sandals of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God (Ephesians 6:10-18). The more familiar they are with their armor, the more prepared they'll be for the battles!
Although we can’t go with them to school, our children are listening to everything we say and will remember the words we speak to them on a regular basis. Let’s do our best to influence our children to a greater degree this school year. Our words matter!