The ABCs of August
The Frisco Independent School District begins a new school year Wednesday, August 10. With the back-to-school (BTS) jitters from your little ones comes the nervousness of co-parenting after divorce. These tips may help you get past those opening day nerves.
BIC, but Not the Pen
Fortunately, children in K-5 wear their emotions on their sleeves. In divorced families they often share their raw nerves about BTS with one parent more than the other.
Perhaps you are fortunate enough to have such a strong bond with your elementary-age child that you bear the brunt of melt-downs, tantrums, terrors, and fears of BTS. Your ex-spouse may glimpse only a sliver of these worries, dismissing your concerns as overblown.
That makes communication between you two absolutely critical. Summer is waning. Excitement over BTS shopping is falling away as your K-5 child faces a new year. Both you and your ex need to be 100 percent tuned into your child, not each other.
In Texas law, the BIC, not the pen, concept is known as “the best interest of the child.” It is codified in Section 153.002 of Texas Family Code.
Experts writing at the Child Mind Institute offer these tips for keeping BIC front and center:
- Validate your children's feelings—Stay calm, do not ride their emotional roller coaster, but let them know their emotions are perfectly normal
- Set the tone—Do not hint at your own worries and do not feed theirs with leading questions like, “I guess you're really scared to return to school, huh?” Instead, highlight the supports your child has: “You have both of your parents to watch over you, you have a great group of caring teachers, and you will be surrounded by friends”
- Help them think positively about the upcoming experience—After school schedules thrown out of whack by COVID-19, a return to the classroom is a welcome return to a normal life; talk up the great things about socializing in school and gaining more power for themselves (because knowledge is power, at any age!)
- Practice separating—Very young children benefit from rehearsals of milestones; if you and your child take the Kindergarten tour or just consciously talk about separating for the school day, that first day will be easier
- Develop routines—Both parents should provide similar routines for school nights and mornings; this boosts your child's confidence and helps life with both parents to feel predictable