How to help your children have the best school year — and save money at the same time.

 / Source: TODAY


Amid the back to school excitement, kids — and parents — may feel anxious or uncertain about facing new experiences.

With a new school year comes questions: Will my child be safe at school? How can I limit the distraction of electronics? And is it possible to save money on back-to-school costs?

For answers, TODAY turned to Dr. Argie Allen-Wilson, the author of “Courageous Conversations Connect” and the founder and CEO of F.A.I.T.H. Inc. (Family and Individual Therapeutic Healing) and NBC News Senior Consumer Investigative Reporter Vicky Nguyen for their expert takes.

How can parents discuss school safety with my child?


When it comes to school emergencies, parents should enforce their past reminders.

“You really have to trust the skills you’ve already imparted on your children,” Allen-Wilson told TODAY. “Tell them to go to the helpers. … kids have phones, so make sure they have your number on speed dial.”

Teaching children to self-regulate their emotions (deep breathing, for example) can help when they feel panicked.

“Don’t let the adrenaline and fear overtake (you),” said Allen-Wilson.

Parents can prepare their children in advance of a crisis.

“A good exercise could be watching a movie centered around the topic, and using that as a tool to open up the conversation with your child about how they would handle the situation,” said Allen-Wilson.

Listening is as important as teaching.

“Parents tend to talk quite a bit, and we don’t create space for the dialogue and that’s what we want: open communication,” notes Allen-Wilson. “We want our kids to share how they’re feeling.”

“Ultimately, kids need structure, consistency, and predictably,” she said. “So anything the parent can say that aids those things, are key.”

Having kids memorize a short and simple safety plan tailored to their individual circumstances is good.

“Give them 3 specific, short, and concise steps to follow in an emergency,” said Allen-Wilson. “These are hard conversations to have. But we have to process the hard stuff and be a good listener for our kids.”

How can parents help children adjust to a new school?

Whatever jitters a child is experiencing are magnified when they’re heading to a new school.

“Humans tend to have difficulty with change, adjustment, and adapting,” said Allen-Wilson. So when discussing your child’s fears, focus on new possibilities and opportunities.

Allen-Wilson relies on the “four Ps.”

“Pace, Place, Possibilities, Perspective,” she said. “What place do you imagine you’ll be in the new school? What are the different perspectives and possibilities? What will the new pace be in this environment?”

Talking through these buzzwords helps students process their emotions.

According to Allen-Wilson, these conversations may take time, so parents should adopt another “P”: patience.

How can parents manage electronics at home so kids can focus on schoolwork?

“Set up tech-free zones,” suggested Allen-Wilson.

Parents can include children when creating rules.

“Hopefully (kids) come up with (something) themselves, but if not, parents should help them focus on a new way of ‘being’ in the house,” said Allen-Wilson, offering ideas like tech-free dinners or car rides.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This