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Episode 44

Preparing your kids
for school (Part 2)

August 22, 2022

[Kyle]: Today in our podcast we're going to hit episode two of the school year is beginning and how to prepare your kids for it. So, if your kids ever have problems in school, have there been issues with them, you know, getting in trouble at school or maybe them not wanting to go to school or them having a lot of negative feelings about school, we're going to dive into how to address those, in a way that's really helpful to kind of shift that for your kid to have a more positive school year.


[Kyle]: Hello and welcome to episode 46 of The Art of Raising Humans. I’m Kyle.

[Sara]: And I’m Sara.

[Kyle]: And today you're delving into part two of preparing your kids for school. Last week we really went into depth about ways to create routines and goals with your kids, to really kind of set a really firm foundation of success for this upcoming school year. So, I hope you were able to listen to that one already and are already implementing those tools, because I think we dropped it probably the week your kids are going to school, so hopefully you had a chance to have those conversations. But if you didn't, it's never too late to go back and listen to that.

[Kyle]: And go back and do it anyway and I do want to again, just remind you, go to the website and when you go there, we have got some great free content. The one in particular I want to highlight is an eight-part series under 30 minutes, on how to help you move from fear and shame and kind of change your-- A different approach to discipline with your kid. So, I hope you'll grab a hold of that eight-part series and it's just-- It comes out each week, each one's about three minutes to five minutes long. Sara and I have put a lot of work into that and I hope you find it really helpful and free is always great, didn't it? It's always fun, okay?

[Sara]: Yes!

[Kyle]: Okay. So-- But today, we want to delve into this content today. Now, in the second part series, we know conflicts arise, so we know sometimes as you get into the school year, maybe your kid is not wanting to go. That's a common one I see a lot of kids for, Sara. Another one is kids are having a really negative experience with teachers or you know, people at that school, they can't seem to make friends, right? So, I was in the school district as an elementary school counselor for seven years. Sara and I both doing counseling and private practice or with agencies, we've been dealing with kids with school for, you know, 15 to 20 years. Of all ages, all the way up to graduating, high school seniors. So, there's all types of ways. So, we're not going to be able to hit everything, but we hope that we'll highlight some key things that tend to be problems pretty early on in the school year and try to answer some of those questions for you, but there's a disclaimer we want to make.

[Sara]: Yeah, I just want to-- This is just for your run-of-the-mill, so to speak, problems. Obviously if your child is having a significant mental health or developmental or you know, there's this point where this is-- These are for problems we can be involved in, but just know that there are times to go get some professional help, some testing, some-- Go get those resources.

[Kyle]: Yeah. Well, and I--

[Sara]: That disclaimer.

[Kyle]: I would have too if parents don't know this, but if your kids are also having some learning issues or having problems-- You know, schools, especially in public schools, offer a lot of testing for your kids to see if they need an IEP or a 504 and we're not going to delve into all those plans, but those are really great plans to help get your kid extra support and so, when I was elementary school counselor, that changed a lot of those kid’s social situations. Because maybe they're really struggling, it was really hurting their self-confidence and all of a sudden, they got tested and they got the support they needed and then they started to thrive. So, and I really enjoyed it. A lot of special ed teachers I worked with were really fantastic about coming alongside kids and just being that extra resource for them, you know?

[Kyle]: But today I wanted to hit in particular, if I can start this conversation with this, as I know if your kid has had issues in the past. I’ve seen a lot of kids who maybe the previous school year, they didn't want to go to school and there was a lot of like, fighting every morning about going to school or the kid, you know, just-- I mean, there's a lot of detention or the kid was getting in trouble, getting sent home a lot from school, you know? Especially this happens in the early years and I don't know if our listeners are aware of this, but the most widely expelled age out of all grades combined is pre-k. So, more four-year-olds are kicked out of school than any other age, because they're asked to do things they're just not developmentally ready to do, you know? So, some kids can sit there and read and write and learn, but kids really need to learn social skills and how to get along and how to have impulse control and all that kind of stuff.

[Kyle]: So, I say all that, to say that I think there's a lot of parents maybe listening to this, who've had these negative experiences with their kids and they're going into this next school year. But even if you hadn't, I think this is a really great exercise to do. I really would like each and every listener to just take a moment and just imagine what your school experience was like. I think too often we don't reflect upon that; we don't look back and we're not honest with ourselves about how difficult it was to manage school. Like, I mean, it's easy to see on tv. I know, Sara, you were homeschooled and I went to public school and so, sometimes you'll watch these shows about school like, we watch Cobra Kai on Netflix or something like that and you'll be like “is this what school was like? Oh my gosh!”

[Kyle]: Like, I mean, obviously it's a dramatization and hopefully not every school's like that, but some schools are actually like that! Kids are actually--

[Sara]: No, there are lots of times. You say “yeah, that happened” or--

[Kyle]: Yes, and in many ways, it's even scarier now, it's even harder now. I mean, with all the junk going on in schools from school shootings, that are just so sad and scary, but also just-- I mean, it's a lot more violence and that kind of stuff, but you know, when I was going to school that was there too, there was fighting. I remember one kid slamming another kid in a wall and beating him up in the cafeteria. That kind of happened in like, ninth grade.

[Kyle]: So, these kinds of things did happen and it is scary and it really helps me, Sara, be able to help kids when I reflect upon that, you know? So, I would like parents who are listening to just do that, be honest about how difficult it can be to successfully navigate school with the peers, with the teachers.

[Sara]: Yeah, I think those social tears are really, really hard. Where did you fit in socially? Where did other kids fit in? What was that like for them?

[Kyle]: Yeah, and nowadays even more so with academics, you know? Nowadays there's so much-- I know sixth graders who are so anxious about whether or not they can get their career. By sixth grade if they fail a class, the teachers are kind of like saying “this is getting you ready for college!” and you know, and there's all this pressure to be successful so early on, I mean, it's--

[Sara]: It's not just your grades, it's your entire “what was I involved in? What kind of clubs? How am I building my resume?” at 11 years old.

[Kyle]: Well, and so, I know particularly when I was an elementary school counselor, stories like this kind of helped me, Sara. So, I remember being in second grade and I had this teacher, Ms. Burns. Ms. Burns was awesome and in second grade, I mean, you gotta imagine I’m probably like seven years old, I thought I was gonna marry her. Like I legitimately did, I legitimately thought me and Ms. Burns someday we're gonna get married and it was really emotional when halfway through the year, you know, she all first semester have been telling us a story about every weekend, she would come on Monday “hey kids! How was your weekend?” and we'd all tell about our weekend. She tell these cute stories about her and Mr. Dean hanging out over the weekends and I thought “oh, this is so cute, Ms. Burns is teaching us a lesson”, you know? Some kind of fable, some kind of moral tale about her and Mr. Dean.

[Kyle]: But then over Christmas she became Mrs. Dean and it was like “what is happening!?”. I remember coming back from Christmas in second grade and just being so, like, blown away that this person was real and that he stole my future wife from me and so, that kind of thinking helped me get into the mind of second graders when I would try to talk to them about things. another one was in third grade, I had a guy with a robotic arm, my teacher had a robotic arm. his arm had been crushed in some kind of accident and I remember there was a day in particular that was quite traumatic for me, where me and my friends all came to school that day and he asked us if we had done our homework that evening and I hadn't. I don't know why I hadn't done homework, but several of my friends had neither, so I was like “cool, we're all in the same boat” and then he called out those other friends, he didn't say me. He wanted them all to come into recess and do their homework.

[Kyle]: And so, I was like “cool, I got off, that's awesome”, but apparently he just forgot to call my name, because he really-- So, and then I saw those friends out there playing at recess and so, we came in and I was like “wow, they're going to get in trouble” and then when I came in, he pushed me against the wall and then pushed the other kids against the wall and he said “you're all getting spankings, you're all getting swats” and so, he took us to the principal's office and with his robotic arm and like a pool-- It was like a ping-pong paddle, like-- And he was going to give us all three swats for not-- And I was like “what is going on!?”. It was so-- It was so traumatic. I mean, he was a nice guy, I loved that teacher, but that moment was quite strange.

[Kyle]: And then one more that really helps me with like, middle school high school kids, had a science teacher in seventh grade and I’d always been well in school, Sara, I’d always made straight A's all through elementary school. Even sixth grade wasn't that difficult, but I had her science class and she just was mean. She's a really mean science teacher and my parents thank goodness, were really open-handed about it. They had had some interactions with her and they just said to me “Kyle, listen, we don't care what grade you get in that class, just get out of it, you know?”. So, I think I got a D in that science class and I almost thought “I’m never going to like science again”. Now, thank goodness in 8th grade I had a fantastic teacher named Mr. Burks and he was so funny, he made science so fun.

[Kyle]: So, in reflecting upon those kinds of stories, there's many more that I have with many other great teachers and some other teachers that were just terrifying and so many great, is it helps me then empathize when kids just feel like they can't succeed in a class, you know? Or when kids have these crazy ideas like, they're going to marry their teachers someday and it helps me go “wow! Oh, that makes sense why it was hard for me that whole week after Christmas break to be successful in second grade”, you know? Because I’m thinking these thoughts.

[Kyle]: So, I would like you, it would be great for each and before your kids go into the school year this year, to really think about the school year the kids are in, and what was your school year like? What were some of the challenges you had? And maybe share some of those with your kids, because I think the kids would really love to know that it just wasn't all easy for you either, it wasn't all just, you know, a bed of roses. That there were challenges and maybe even you have some wisdom to share, but how you overcame those and it could be a really cool way to co-create that year.
[Kyle]: So, I hope that's just a helpful exercise, it really helps me move into empathy with the kids, okay? Anything you do, Sara, similar to that at all?

[Sara]: I’m sorry, I was thinking about the next thing.

[Sara]: No, no. I think any opportunity to connect with my child, especially when I know they've had a rough time before-- So, we're talking this is the beginning of the year, so this is where everyone's getting a little nervous and we're really hoping that last year isn't repeated, but we're kind of thinking “well, things didn't change, so it's probably going to be repeated and we’re--”, you know. If you're anxious about it, your child's anxious about it and I think having-- Getting in that space of empathy and connecting with them, helps to give the opportunity for something to be different. Because I’ve connected with you, I’ve empathized with you and now we can take a step forward, versus me just “now it's time to change, this is what's going to happen” and staying in that anxious place. It can bring some calm to it.

[Kyle]: Yeah. So, one of the questions that comes up a lot with people who listen to the podcast or people we just run into or clients we have is, do I have a conversation with the kids teachers about the issues they had the previous year? It's a real common dilemma and you know what, Sara? It'd be great if that answer was just “yes” or “no”.

[Sara]: I know, right? Because you're thinking “okay, if I talk to the teacher, then they're gonna know my kid had problems and then they're gonna see him that way”. But if I don't prepare them, then they'll be surprised and yeah.

[Sara]: It's a really tough one of which way to go. So, having been in the school system, what are your thoughts on that?

[Kyle]: I mean, that's where typically when parents come with that question, Sara, it just really depends, it all depends. I typically would like the parent to really kind of go with their heart on that, you know? I think sometimes more often than not, I lean on the side of information. So, I believe telling them and preparing them is probably going to endear you to them better, you know?

[Sara]: Then surprise my child.

[Kyle]: Yeah, teachers in schools do not like to be surprised. So, if I were to, I would err on the side of having positive intent, believing the best in the teacher and the administration and believing they got into this occupation because they want to help my child, you know? So, I would do what I could to first probably do that. But I understand my parents don't do that, I understand their trepidation, because sometimes they've done in the past and it did kind of stereotype their kid or kind of--

[Sara]: Give them a label.

[Kyle]: Yeah, label them or like, stigmatize them or you know, whatever that is, right? And so, if you're fearful of that, as I know some parents like “I don't want to tell them, I want to see how it goes” and I’ve seen that work great. Sometimes like, the teacher has no clue and so, like “oh--”. So, you got to kind of go with your heart, but in general I would say, 80% of the time I say give them the information, trust that they want to help your kid, that's what I would do.

[Sara]: And I think the information you give them, you let them know maybe what happened, but I would make sure you let them know “this is what I’m going to do and how I’m going to show up and how I’m going to support you. I’m supporting my child”. So, it's not just “hey, my child had a real big anxiety issue or real big behavior problem, was punching all the other kids who--”. Sometimes they're-- Let them know what happened, but let them know what you're doing about it, how you're going to be there for them and supporting them and then it gives you-- I think it sets a tone and it gives you an opportunity to feel out the teacher.

[Sara]: How is this teacher responding to this information. You know, if it's deer in the headlights or if they're “oh--” and you get some idea of what this might look like for your child and then you can go home and prepare your child for that first day in a better way, because you've had that contact with the teacher. I don't know how often you're able to have those meetings ahead of class starting.

[Kyle]: Sure, yeah. No, I’m with you and that kind of gives me my next thought of-- I do love that. If I can and if you have a good vibe with the teacher and you think this teacher, you know, is going to be a positive influence, then I would-- The more I can connect that kid to that teacher before the school year starts, the better and so--

[Kyle]: Yeah. So, typically there is a time, especially in elementary years. You know, not the middle school, high school, but where the teacher is preparing the classroom and sometimes kids can come in on a meet-the-teacher type time and the kid could bring the teacher a picture they've drawn, right? Or they can come in and just, you know, ingratiate themselves to the teacher, be helpful. “Hey, could I help you put your classroom together?” or anything-- All those kinds of ways. The more I can help my kid be connected to that teacher, the more that teacher is likely to see my kid in a positive light and not just think that that there's so little to my kid. They'll see there's much more to my kid than just these issues they've had the previous year, you know?

[Sara]: Yeah, and I think it helps the teacher to know if you're-- If they can see an engaged parent, it takes some pressure off of them.

[Kyle]: 100%

[Sara]: They feel like you're creating a partnership versus “here, here's this problem, go fix it for me and let me know”.

[Kyle]: Yeah, yeah, and I’d say that's true for the entire year, okay? So, I would say that this is kind of going into some other questions, but the more I can have my presence felt and what I mean by that is, not in a negative way. I think a lot of people use their presence to intimidate or to like, scare the teacher or to like-- And I want you to-- Every human being is naturally a little like, cautious about these relationships, especially teachers. Teachers get a lot of negative stuff from parents and so, there's naturally this kind of guardedness to it, you know? So, I’ve got to-- I want the teacher to come and “I am for you, I’m just as much for you as I am for my kid. I want my kid to succeed in your classroom and I want you to succeed in the classroom with my kid”.

[Kyle]: And so, the more I can have my presence felt with the teacher in regards to just getting to know that teacher, having positive interactions with that teacher, more I can get to know the school counselor, if I believe the school counselor is going to-- Because I’d love that when parents came in and talked to me and believed I was there to help their kid. That's exactly why I got into the business, was to help their kid. If I could get to know the principal, all these people. If I can make these connections and just let them know I’m there for them, they're to help them, I want my kid to succeed, I want you to succeed with my kid. I even loved the idea of something that I would do, you know, with our kids as if they were having issues at school with friends. I’d want to go to lunch, you know? See if I could go to lunch. Not every day, but maybe a couple times a week and let my kid know I’ll be there at lunch, I’m going to meet the other kids that are around the kids.

[Kyle]: Now, obviously once again, middle school, high school, you're not doing this, but elementary school this is a real common thing I saw parents do and encourage them to do, to help kind of almost like, grease the social wheels, you know? That I could meet the parent, but “oh, if the other kids met that parent, they would really like that kid more, because that parent is so good at doing that”, right? So, if you have the social skills and you want to show your kid how those-- You just sit down, you talk to the kids and then you also get a feel which kids you actually don't want your kid hanging around. Like, which kids are like-- So, you can even kind of guide some of those interactions as you get to know them, but in general I found, the kids looked at your kid in a more positive light because they met you and they had a positive experience with you.

[Sara]: There's a book for really little kids “Wemberly worried” and it's about this little bunny and she's super-- She's a very, very anxious bunny. Just in life in general, she's very anxious and in the story, she goes and she makes a connection. They find another little bunny who's also has similarities and she's-- And they're able to help her by joining her with this other bunny friend and I think that reminds me of what you were just saying. At whatever level, if you're there and you're present, you're more likely to help your child find a good connection, something that's going to help them, because you're there and you're seeing the other kids and you're involved and the teacher is going to come alongside and look for that as well. There's more people there to find pathways of success for your child.

[Kyle]: Yeah. Well, this is a question now for all ages and so, I think you can help me with this, Sara. How do you help a kid reset themselves? You know? Reset. If they've had a negative year the previous year and they're going into it, maybe they-- Maybe at the same school and you know, a lot of the same kids and a lot of the same-- How do you help them reset? Because I find a lot of the kids get really a fixed mindset, they get really kind of closed and just assume because last year was bad, this next year's going to be bad too. So, they go in already hyper vigilant about all the negativity and they're not-- Even there might be a lot of positive things going on, they're not even able to see it. So, how would you suggest helping a kid reset that?

[Sara]: Well, I think that does kind of go back to our last podcast. I’d want to start by creating this fun conversation, right? We're going to do something that my kid enjoys doing and work-- And I’m going to open the door to have the conversation and I do want to say sometimes, I would voice that even if my child didn't say it and I’d say “you know, sometimes if we've had a bad year or a bad experience, we think that means the next experience is going to be bad as well”.

[Kyle]: Yeah, it's a foregone conclusion.

[Sara]: Yeah, and that's true, because our brains are even wired that way. You know, I saw a bear and this is what happened, so now I know to avoid bears.

[Kyle]: It's a sign of intelligence, it'd be dumb if you had a really bad experience and “the next one's going to be great!”. You're naturally going to be-- Yes

[Sara]: Yeah, “if I touch the hot stove, it won't burn me this time, even though it burned me last time.” So, kids could and so to speak, been burned at school, had this bad experience and they think “okay. Well--”. Going into this very building, their brain starts to go “I remember this building. This stuff happens when I’m in this building, it's negative”. So, I would want to let them know, I would call that to light and just say “sometimes we feel that way, but just because it happened then, in this case it doesn't mean it'll happen again”.

[Sara]: But it would be an opportunity depending on where your child's at with it, if they're willing to have the conversation, maybe what led to that. “What can we try differently? Let's try some new things?”. So, if we again, what's our goal for the year, you know? What's the goal and let's find some new pathways. We didn't really like those pathways last year, they didn't really work out, so let's find some new ones and start giving that hope, building that hope inside of them, that it can be different, you can have a different outcome. What would you say?

[Kyle]: I might even think, what I do with a kid like that too is just, especially an older kid, you know? Just “are you even open to the idea that this next year could be different?”. I mean, “do you believe in--?”. I might even just in a joking way just, “can you see the future? Because that's amazing. What else? Tell me who's going to win the super bowl, because I want to put some money on that”, right? And just like-- So, let's all agree real quick that we can't see the future, okay? Now, you can predict it by previous information you've had and maybe even predict it to a high level of success, but are you open to the fact that anything could be good this year? And typically, a kid's honest enough to say “yes, something might be good”. “Okay. Well, let's look for that, how about we look for that? Because I think what you focus on, will grow”.

[Kyle]: “So, if you want to see bad stuff this year, I think you're going to find a lot of it. I bet every day if we wanted to talk about it, how about we even do that for a week? You come home to me with all the bad things, I tell you all the bad things that happen in my day. We could do that, I don't know how helpful it's going to be, right? What if we instead, I go to work, you go to school and we come back and say ‘did you notice one good thing today?’. You know, one good thing. Because I know a lot of bad things happen and you can tell me about those. I just like to hear one good thing, you know? And I’ll share my one good thing to you”.

[Kyle]: So, even like teeming with that about how to take this new way of viewing the year and just kind of opening the hand just a little bit, to saying maybe something could change, maybe this doesn't have to be the same as last year. Because in all reality, it isn't the same as last year, because you're a year older, it's a different-- You know, all that kind of stuff, there's all types of ways you could point that. But I just want to team with the kid to say “let's try to find a glimpse of light in the darkness."

[Sara]: Yeah, those exceptions to the rule so to speak.

[Kyle]: Now, along that though, Sara, I would say I think a big part of that as I as a parent have to deal with my own fears, concerning whether or not I believe it's going to be different; you know?

[Sara]: And I think that's the starting place. Because those kids, they pick up on even if we try to hide it, those-- Our children are so perceptive to our emotions and if they feel some tension and nerves and anxiety and you that “I don't even think you believe in me, let alone me believe in myself”. So, we've got to do some work on ourselves first before we go into the--

[Kyle]: Well, and the way the kid sees that and feels that, is by your frustrated irritated annoyed angry response, is why would I be so frustrated angry annoyed at the kid being afraid of it if I really believed it was going to go well? You know? When I get frustrated annoyed and angry at the kids saying “I think this year is going to suck” and I just get mad, basically the kid gets the underlying message like “stop saying that! Because I already feel it enough and I’m already dealing with that myself and I have a real struggle believing it's going to be successful, I need you to help me believe it's going to be successful”, you know? And so, I would be curious if I kept getting irritated by them bringing that up, what is causing that irritation and frustration? Is it my own fear that I’m questioning if this is gonna be--? And I think in most cases, it is. In most cases “I don't see a pathway of how this is gonna be successful and yet, I don't know, we-- We can't switch schools right now, we've already done that too many times or I don't know how to fix the stuff with the teachers and the friends and I just wish it would all change” and it's almost like we're just hoping, you know, that like maybe all those kids we have problems with are gone this year. Just like we're just-- And so, then we just kind of almost going in with ignorance and just like, not wanting to open our eyes to the fact that there's probably going to be some more challenges, but also being hopeful that we together can change it. It's not hoping that those other kids change or that the school just magically changes, but how can we do that together? I think that's the key.

[Sara]: Yeah, yeah, I like that because it's not necessarily a magic wand of “I’m just going to pretend it's all wonderful!” It's still honest, it's still “okay, we had these struggles”, but it's not that fixed mindset of “it's a predetermined outcome” and there's this belief that goes with it that we can do hard things, we're capable, we can find pathways, we're not limited. It's not this “well, that's it, we've tried every pathway”. There are other avenues and even if you have a hard teacher, then it's not necessarily the magic wand of “get a different teacher”, maybe sometimes we really do have that teacher and there's nothing we can do about it. So, how can we navigate that best?

[Kyle]: Now, two key questions I want to hit and wrapping up, okay? One is kind of easy and the other one's a little more complicated. So, one is, what do I do--? I hear this a lot, so do you. What do I do if my kid gets in trouble at school? So, let's say the kid does something especially in middle school or I guess all ages, all ages and the kid gets in trouble at school and then the school calls you and the parents “what do I do? What consequences do I give the kid?”, right? So, if you've been listening to our podcast, you know we do something different than consequences, so we don't spend a lot-- But I would say this, is I try to tell parents “You don't need to double dip”, okay? It's like “don't double dip”. The kid, the school is running on a list of rules and consequences because it doesn't have relationship to back it up, right?

[Kyle]: So, when the school has “already been punished for the bad thing they've done”, you don't need to compound that too by when they come home “now, here's what we're going to do to you too”, right? Is actually when the school does that, allow these kids-- The school to do their thing and then your job as a parent is to come alongside that kid, understand how to help them do that thing differently. That's really your whole goal, so you don't need to yell the kid, you don't need to be all mad. Okay, sure, you're gonna have feelings and you might be disappointed what happened and you can express those, of course. But inevitably your job is to support them to do it differently, you know? The school's job actually isn't trying to do it differently, the school's job is just saying “you do that again and this is going to happen”. There's really no learning that's going on, it's just saying “you do this again, then you're going to get your hand slapped” or whatever the thing is, you know? I’m just using that--

[Kyle]: So, with the parents you don't need to jump on top, I would encourage you not to do that, because then the kids like “goodness’ sake. So, like everybody who finds out about this has to punish me along the way? I thought the school already did the thing; I’ve already gotten--” whatever their punishment is. “I want to come home and just tell you about it and get your support, yes”.

[Sara]: Yeah. That's what I think, you want your kid running home to tell you what happened and you want to hear their perspective. Because the school the school isn't always even in a position to hear their perspective and to know what led to this and this and this other thing.

[Kyle]: They typically don't have the time.

[Sara]: Yeah, and so-- And there's a bunch of kids, there's so many things going on.

[Kyle]: Yeah, so many factors.

[Sara]: But at home you want your child to walk in the door and say “mom, I got in trouble, this is--” and you want to hear what led to it, even if it's “I was so mad and I punched him” and that's what you want to hear, because you want to know “oh, the skill of how to regulate yourself, the skill of knowing what to do other than punching him”.
[Kyle]: To deal with conflict resolution, yeah, all those kinds of skills.

[Sara]: And so, you want your child to pour it all out and then align with them and help them when they're calm, when they're in a good space, “what else could you do? Let me give you these other tools that I have when I’m really frustrated” or whatever it is, whatever the situation might be.

[Kyle]: Well, the point is nothing's going to get resolved if everybody's just handing down punishments. So, all you're doing at best is making the kid too scared to ever do that, but he never learned how to do it better. So, I agree, I don't know if the school-- It would be great if the school could take the time to work through it, but typically they won't and don't have the time. So, they're gonna-- They have a book I know, if you guys, the listeners know, they have a book and they look at the book and go “what should be done with this offense?”. There's no like real individualization for your kid. So, when the kid comes home, you want the parent to be able to receive them and be able to understand them and then come alongside them to co-create a different outcome to that situation. Otherwise, you're making it more and more likely that kid will either do that thing again and just get better at hiding it, you know? Or the kid just at best doesn't do it because they're too scared, but they never learned how to do it better, okay?

[Kyle]: So, that's one that I hear a lot. Second one is, what if my kid doesn't want to go to school? Kid chooses not to go to school and this is one the earlier you can help the kid with this, the better. I mean, if the kid has been doing this all through elementary school and it's been a lot of making them go to school, yelling at them with fear and consequences, then the kid buys into this lie that they go to school because they have to. I mean, I’ve actually counseled kids, Sara, who are seniors who think they're going to school, because if they don't their parents will get arrested and that's just not true, and you know what those kids did when they went to school? They just were on their phone the entire time and didn't do school anyway, so they just checked out. Lots of these kids are “being made to go to school”, just go there, check out, are just failing anyway.

[Sara]: They're just sitting in the building.

[Kyle]: Yes. So, the earlier I can help the kid understand that going to school is their choice, okay? Now, what that looks like is different. So, when they're very little, I would suggest a parent like, whether you go to school or not that's not necessarily a choice, it's how you go to school. So, who you go to school with? My mom used to say “you want dad to take you? Hey, you want me hang in there for a little bit? Do you want me to do--?”, whatever. You find different ways for the kid to be able to choose how he goes to school or you know, what that whole experience is going to be like, what that routine-- Typically I find it's not that the kid doesn't want to go to school, it's just the kid doesn't know how to make friends or the kid doesn't, you know, the kids had a the teacher.

[Sara]: There's something behind it, yeah.

[Kyle]: There's always something behind it. So, it's not that the kid-- The kid doesn't even know not going to school what they'd even do, other than play video games, that's all. But they really--

[Sara]: And you have the kid at home “I’m bored!”

[Kyle]: Yes, and the kid wants to learn, you got to trust that kids want to learn. Kids want to be successful, that's why you're sending them to school, because you believe learning is going to help them be able to have more opportunities to then be successful. So, they at a young age, but if it comes in the middle school, you know, high school years, I really want to go back to what you were saying in the last podcast. I’ve really got to-- If that happened the previous year, we gotta set some tone about this new year, because I don't want it to be this way, right? So, some parents have found it very helpful and I know I did too. I found when my mom said “hey, listen, if you don't wanna go to school, you know, maybe because you didn't do your homework the night before or maybe because you want to avoid something, just let me know. We're not going to make a habit out of this, okay? So, we're not going to keep doing this over and over again, but today, so--”. I remember faking sick sometimes and then when my mom told me that, I was like “oh, I could just tell you?” and so, for me it was like I had a good my mom, I would just tell her and I never misused it, right?

[Kyle]: Now, some kids might and if they did, I would just go back to rebuilding the connection, rebuilding the relationship, recreating what the vision is for their school, right? Them going to school. You wanna hand in hand go with them and do it. So, some parents will say like “you get five mental health days this year, right? So, I’m allowing you five, so make sure you--" and a lot of times if you just say that real assertively, the kid will buy into that and the kid will pick and choose what-- He may not even use all five or she may not use all five, but those kind of ways are setting boundaries, not “are we gonna go to school or not”, but this is what it looks like to go to school and still assert your choice when it comes to going to school.

[Sara]: Yeah, I think a lot of times it is that kid-- It's the message of “this is being done to you and I’m controlling you” and no one likes to be controlled, so we want to hand that power back, letting they know that they can take a day and not go, they can-- They have so many during the year. It's hinting that back to them “how you want to go to school?” is handing it back to them, the power of “I’m doing this. Why am I doing this? How am I going to do this?” When the power's taken away, you're going to resist. So, just you have to go from day one and we're all going to tell you how.

[Kyle]: Yeah, “we're going to kick you-- We're going to bring you, you know, kicking and screaming” and the kid will go “that's how it goes.”And “I hate school, I don't want to go and you're going to make me”.

[Sara]: And if it's been years of this, that shift will be hard.

[Kyle]: Yes, yes, it's really hard to a change.

[Sara]: That shift will be hard, but you gonna keep trying to let them know it's different now and most kids they know why they're going to school, you know? And hopefully hasn't gotten to this really bad spot, where they just don't even care about any of that now and they've given up, but just really-- They know that internally and if they feel like they have some choice, they're more likely to engage it differently.

[Kyle]: All right. So, I know we didn't cover everything, I mean, we wanted to get into bullying and being bullied, we didn't even get into all that stuff, right? So, we can do that in another podcast. I know there's so many different aspects of school, maybe we'll do it later in the fall or something like that, right? So, we'd love to hear your comments back about this podcast, maybe ways you help prepare your kids for school, maybe other questions you have specifically with my experience in the school district, that we could follow up with and share. But we'd love to hear from any kind of listener-- Any kind of listener feedback and feel free to go to the podcast. There is some specific courses that could help you too, but there's one on how to communicate and understand your teenager. So, if there is some school issues going into that, having a lot of conflict with your teenager going in the school year, that could be a fantastic course for you and another one on how to resolve conflict.

[Kyle]: So, we really enjoy your time, hope the school year goes fantastic. Really excited about a new year for your kids to learn and grow and we hope you have a great day.

[Sara]: Thank you for listening.

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