The first weeks of school can be a very trying time for your child. They are being forced to deal with new boundaries and expectations that can feel downright frightening. They have a particular self image that does not match their new role in boarding school. Not only do they not WANT to change, they believe that they can’t. They assume an attitude of, “I’m not doing this! I have to get out of here!”
The programs and traditions in place are tried and true methods to change this attitude and foster healthy emotional development and personal growth. They are used because they work.
You may receive text messages, phone calls, and IMs from your child pleading to come home. These messages are difficult to hear and read. Be assured that your child is in good hands and their resistance to change is normal.
What is needed at this time is your support and reinforcement of the school’s culture. Below are some tips to help you support your child during this transition. By following these suggestions, you will give your child the space and support they need to get started on the right foot.
- agree to set weekly or semi-weekly times to talk on the phone and limit calls to 1/2 hour or less.
- pre-arrange for weekly check-in system with students advisor – respect time boundaries – frequent short check-ins are more helpful than crisis driven reactive calls.
- practice listening skills when student is sharing “news” and information.
- revisit the temptation to solve problems – this is a skill that boarding school will foster in your child.
- Check with school administration/faculty before reacting to or assuming comments to be fact. (an adolescents perception of events often differs from adults)
- Support school schedules and rules – try not to ask for “exceptions.”
- Attend parent events
- Do not engage in or support on-line undermining or “gossip”. Help redirect disgruntled parents to school administrators.
- Offer to host regional information nights for interested families. Use the evening to explain advantages of the boarding school experience and the specific strengths of your school.
- Attend “away” sports events for any/all sports in which students are participating.
- Make an effort to attend school functions. Plays, art shows, speakers, parent association meetings, awards functions, sports events etc.
Enter your relationship with school administration and faculty as a Team member and you’ll be doing your child a great service. Remember you are all there to support your child through this experience and grow as a family. Assume and exhibit good-will and positive effort. Develop a relationship with a school member so you trust their work. By following the above suggestions you will be supporting your child through this most difficult transition and showing them that you believe in their ability to grow into a healthy, mature adult.