Back to school means back to textbooks, back to book bags, back to homework. But, for many children, it also means back to friendships. Children often have a different set of "summer friends" than they have "school friends" - maybe due to geography, travel, or just time constraints. As school runs for the majority of the year, the school friends are the ones with whom they spend the majority of their time and, more than likely, develop the closer friendships.
Reconnecting with friends and meeting new pals along the way is one of the greatest parts of the back to school fun. It's always nice to listen to my kids when they come home from school with stories of new friends and fun on the playground. In a similar way, it's great fun - and a little bit nerve wracking - for me to reconnect with the parents of my children's friends.
One thing that I really try to stress every year is the reality that my children need to be a friend to have a friend. We spend time each year, before the first day of school, discussing the things that one should do to be a good friend. We role play situations that come up, discuss appropriate ways to deal with bullies and always talk about how to treat other people with dignity and respect.
When children are faced with a bullying situation, it can be difficult for them to stand up for themselves, never mind another child. My daughter told met his afternoon that she'd stood up for her friend - when a boy told her friend that she smelled bad and was "gross", she stood up to him and then talked to the teacher. She's ten, and although tattling can be unattractive, I believe she did the right thing, especially as the boy made her friend cry. I told her that I was proud of her, and shared with her my belief in the "Bravery Muscle".
The "Bravery Muscle" is deep within each of us. It's a weak muscle that only gets stronger the more we use it. When we first demonstrate bravery, we may feel weak and wobbly inside, much as we do the first time we do a push up. The more push ups we do, the stronger our muscles get - and our bravery muscle reacts in the same manner.
I was very proud of her for doing the right thing. I hope that all of my children will do the same.
What do you admire most about how your kids deal with other kids?