Starting school: A big step
When our child starts school, we're already dealing with a tornado of emotions: excited to see our child begin a new stage, concerned about not having our eyes and ears everywhere, at all times, and a little anxious to know if he or she is going to adapt well to school, classes, new rules and new friends.
Once school has started and the routine is established, those worries are replaced with the realization that your little one is changing: and not just for the better! Besides all the learning that goes on in school, there also comes along the new influences of friends who come from families with different value systems than ours, the presence of older kids that impress the younger ones and most importantly, a kind of mini-society that establishes itself with each kid playing a vital role in this group dynamic.
Because of this natural dynamic, your child may suddenly start to display behaviours they already know are not accepted, start using language that will make your toes curl and try to assert themselves in a rather awkward (but cute!) manner. Even the child who was always nicknamed the little angel will start coming home with notes from the teacher to notify you of an incident at school. We spoke with Stephanie Deslauriers, psychoeducator, on how to manage those new challenges while respecting the independence of our children.
The child who bites or scratches
Most kids who start kindergarten already know that it's not okay to bite, scratch or be aggressive with their peers. Therefore, it's normal for you to feel a bit helpless once you realize your child has started to show this aggressive behavior again and to think that everything has to be retaught and relearned. Ms. Deslauriers reassures us by explaining that a child who begins to have negative behaviors considered aggressive is not always doing it because they are exhibiting aggression or anger but sometimes they do it to try to belong to a group or simply to imitate others so they can be accepted and included in that group.
But what can we do as parents to make our kids understand that this behavior is unacceptable and that they must respect the rules we set at home as well as the rules set at the school, all while respecting their need to belong? According to Ms. Deslauriers, it's important to empower our children and make them aware of the fact that they always have a choice: « You can ask him questions so he can experience a positive mental exercise. You can also teach him ways to make sure his choice is respected by his peers. »
Vocabulary and personality changes
Children are supposed to go to school to enrich their vocabulary and have experiences that form their personality, but as you can see, it's not always for the better! When my oldest started kindergarten, in a week, she had replaced mom with « dude » and started playing pre-teen by rolling her eyes at me and throwing with disdain « you're not cool, mom ». Tough for the ego of a mom who used to hold the most important role in the lives of her children to realize that she is becoming a little less popular now that our kids are faced with new models like teachers, friends, and classmates.
It may seem irritating to not be in control of the vocabulary of your child, but Ms. Deslauriers advises you to practice letting go and to choose your battles: « If the parents intervene on the cool language, parents may feel exhausted to always be reprimanding their child and the child may feel undermined in the long term because he will feel like he can't do anything right. It's better to focus on curses and bad words or insults. It's entirely appropriate for the parent to set limits while respecting the reality of this generation. »