The beginning of a school year holds such excitement and promise. A new start is ahead and nothing seems impossible. This is a great time to start a new back to school tradition with your family. Here are three ways some people have chosen to welcome in the new school year.

1) Have a special back to school dinner where goals are verbalized and written down by the family secretary. Each family member can then be held accountable and help each other work toward goals. Hang the goals up where you can see them if everyone feels comfortable doing so.

2) Commit to (at least ) 3 family meals a week. Research has shown this to be beneficial to children’s academic progress and emotional health as well. If you can not orchestrate 3 dinners, try breakfasts or lunch on weekends. There may be some families who simply can not orchestrate family meals due to work or activities. If this is the case for you, perhaps you could have evening snack or walk together. The point is for everyone to be together and share and have a chance to be heard. ( These rituals become especially important during the teen years when the tendency may be to isolate in one’s room )

3) Verbalize expectations about more than academics. The beginning of the school year is a great time to introduce new rules or freedoms for a child. The messages being sent to youth through media or peers may not be congruent with your expectations or values. Make sure communication goes both ways, and that your child clearly knows what you hope for and expect in regards to friendships, respect for self and others and dating.

You have filled their backpacks and closets with back to school gear. You have gone over class schedules to see how their minds will grow. I encourage you now to utilize these three tips to fill their hearts and minds with the knowledge that while growing up may be hard – they are not alone. Here is wishing all of you growth of mind, body and heart in the upcoming school year!

If you are looking for a Family Therapist in the Twin Cities area please contact Trisha Falvey, MA, LAMFT