Wednesday’s Parent: Dealing with attitude


When fireworks fly. Photo by Wendy David-Gaines

When fireworks fly. Photo by Wendy David-Gaines

Have you ever experienced attitude from your child? Not the smiling Fourth of July fireworks excitement but the rolling eyes, sighs, staring without seeing, hearing without listening kind of demeanor? It is often a result of the child misinterpreting parental good intentions as obtrusive interference.

“We think the same but not at the same time.” This was the thought expressed by a frustrated son to his equally exasperated mother in the play “Butterflies are Free.”

I saw the play days ago but this concept is like a song I can’t get out of my head. It describes the divide between parent and child. Now all we need is a reliable and sturdy bridge.

Wednesday’s Parent is on it. Your very own POCSmom Wendy David-Gaines and college prep expert Suzanne Shaffer have joined forces to provide parenting tips and strategies to help you help your student achieve success.

Whether you are the parent of a preschooler or a college freshman, attitude can block communication like an NFL tackler.

Here are seven parent tips for dealing with your child’s attitude that may interfere with back to school success:

1. Homework Attitude at the mere mention of the word “homework” is not surprising. No one likes to take their job home with them but that’s what homework is to students. Of course they would rather relax, socialize and chill, wouldn’t you? Helping your student make studying and timely completion of assignments a priority provides a tool that will serve him well throughout his academic and employment future. Take out the calendar and create a schedule together. Block out time for studies, extracurricular activities, play time and alone quiet time. Sometimes adjustments are necessary but that’s okay. The key is to get your child invested in the process so he will continue the practice on his own. The bonus is that will decrease your reminders that result in his attitude responses.

2. Activities If your student is making up excuses, rolling out the delaying tactics, or complaining about going to a club, sport or activity, it is time for a reassessment. A heart to heart conversation can get to the root of the problem. This is the time for parents to do the listening and mentally walk in their child’s shoes. Has your student’s interests changed, is there a problem with a bully, is it socially awkward because of a recent friendship fight or loss, is it overwhelming your student’s schedule, is there a personality conflict with the supervising adult? Knowing what is wrong is the first step in working together to find a solution- even if that means switching to something else.

3. Friends Distance does not always make the heart grow fonder, contrary to the popular cliché. A summer apart can take its toll on friendships. Your child may give you attitude because he does not want to discuss the details. Making new friends, keeping old ones, and adjusting to friendship losses are life skills that parents can help their child develop. Brainstorm how-to together. Then list new opportunities for your student to meet others with similar interests and encourage continuing contacts from old and new friends. Check local sources such as school, library and sports sponsors. Also look to communities further away to widen your student’s circles.

4. Meals What parent hasn’t been asked, ”What’s for dinner?” and received, “Ugh” as a response? The more your child takes part in meal preparation the more likely she will enjoy them. From making up a grocery list to setting the table, there are plenty of chances for children to assist parents with breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. The bonus here is this can become the basis of a healthy diet and less swapping of carrot sticks for chips in the cafeteria. By the time she is off to college she will be on her way to avoid the “Freshman 15.”

5. A.M. Routine It takes time to transform a new routine into a habit. Factor in your child may not be a morning person and getting ready for school can be a disaster. Try this abc approach. A. Allow for rest:: Set reasonable bed times that allow for enough rest. B. Be prepared: Prepare so everything is ready to go including tomorrow’s clothes, backpack, lunch and snacks. C. Clear the mind: Turn off electronic devices at least an hour before bed. Let your child get used to this special quiet time to relax, read, start a journal, reflect on the day and plan for the next one. By learning self-winding down techniques, he will be prepared when he heads for the college dorm.

6. Family fun Parents shouldn’t have to walk on egg shells around their child but it can happen when moms and dads censor their comments for fear it will generate attitude. Turn the generation perception gap into family teamwork togetherness. Pick fun projects together that require cooperation such as building a model, prepping for a barbecue, forming a family book club, and participating in an act of charity. When the time comes, your family will be primed to take on the challenges of college prep activities.

7. Independence It is human nature to want more of a good thing so when children receive increased privileges they may cop an attitude based on their new status. Match responsibilities to privileges and explain a path that will lead to new ones. Be specific about expectations and how privileges can be gained and lost. Communication and respect are twin necessities as children grow toward independence. Soon enough parents will be parenting an adult child.

There are times when attitude seems to appear for no reason. Patience and a strong memory may help parents through. Count to 10 while remembering when you thought adults didn’t and couldn’t get it. Congratulate yourself for your insights and wisdom that come from experiencing both viewpoints.

Read on for Suzanne Shaffer’s Wednesday’s Parent: Attitude Adjustments.


Wednesday’s Parent: Tips for a new school/year

Back to School

Back to School

Raising college-bound children is challenging, costly and stressful. Whether you are the parent of a preschooler or a college freshman, there are parenting tips and strategies to help your student achieve success. Wednesday’s Parent is a new parent series shared by your very own POCSmom Wendy David-Gaines and college prep expert Suzanne Shaffer.

Wednesday’s child may be full of woe but Wednesday’s parent can substitute action for anxiety. Each Wednesday Suzanne and I will provide parent tips to get and keep your student on the college track. It’s never too late or too early to start!

Wednesday’s Parent will give twice the info and double the blog posts on critical parenting issues by clicking on the link at the end of the article from to and vice versa.

The first installment in the Wednesday’s Parent series is about ways to help your student attend a new school and have a successful new school year:

Wednesday’s Parent: Tips for a new school year

Whether the phrase, “Back to school” makes you smile or grimace, it signals change. Change can be especially difficult for kids attending a new school.

From preschoolers to college freshmen, there are universal parenting strategies that can help reduce the stress of adjustment so families can enjoy and be prepared for the start of a new school year.

1. New time schedule Usually a new school has different start and end times. That means new waking up and going to bed routines may have to be established. Make small adjustments each day to ease the transition.

2. New location It is natural to fear the unknown. Take the mystery out by visiting the new school. Many schools have visiting days but if they don’t, ask for a tour of the building and its surroundings to learn the layout

3. New transportation How students get to and from school may be changing, too. Do a dry run together to estimate how long it takes and to get familiar with the route. Discuss safety hazards. Also explore other to and from travel options should it be necessary.

4. New social status Entering a new school means the student is now on the low rung of the academic and social status ladder. At the same time, the student may have increased privileges and responsibilities at home and at school. This is a good time to chat about expectations.

 5. New peers Encourage your student to make new friends and keep the old but don’t be surprised if the mix changes as the student’s interests become more defined. Talk about how to make friends and how to deal with bullying.

6. New teachers Make sure your student understands her most important job is school and her boss is the teacher. She should follow the teacher’s instructions, go to work prepared, and complete assignments on time. Let her know that if she has questions or problems, she can always talk to you.

7. New school work It can be difficult to adjust to a new homework load. Make it easier by creating a quiet study space filled with good lighting and necessary school supplies. Add study time to a calendar listing activities (see #9). Investigate free homework help and tutoring options offered by the school and encourage your student to attend when necessary.

8. New issues Hopefully your student will like his new teacher(s), school, and classmates but be prepared to address the issue if there are problems. Let your student know you have his back and will be there to support him. Get the phone numbers of relevant school personnel should it be necessary to perform your role as parent advocate and schedule a meeting. (See Suzanne’s list with warnings about being a hovering helicopter parent).

9. New opportunities If there are student and parent email or text alerts, sign up. Keep on top of school events, clubs and activities to avoid missed opportunities. A calendar can help keep everyone up to date and regular planning conversations can keep the family on track.

10. New parent involvement New schools mean new opportunities for parent involvement. Join a parent organization and network to learn more about the school, student body and other parents.

Read on for Suzanne Shaffer’s tips for a new school (year). Enjoy your fresh start and have a great school year!

Back to college surprise that costs little but means lots

Parents can add something special to the back to college shopping list that costs little but means lots. It is a small surprise that will help students deal with stress and homesickness and provide a way to make new friends.

This is especially important to help students adjust to a new school and a new place to live. Bump up the “assist” by making the present a surprise. Hide the gift where you know it will be found after you leave.

Photo by Zeus Box (Kuswanto)

Here what to include in your back to college surprise package:

1. Photos Framed or loose, family photos are a reminder of good memories and people who care.

2. Toy A blow-up beach ball, bubble stuff or flying disc are great examples of interactive toys that bring smiles and relieve stress.

3. Snack Nothing helps makes friends faster than sharing yummy goodies. Sweet or savory, a delicious snack is always appreciated and helps break the ice!

4. I factor Here’s where the student’s personality and preferences determine the present. Music, reading material, games, and videos are all possibilities but so are adding to a collection or hobby.

5. Note This is where parents can put the thoughts they were too choked up to say when they dropped their student off. Take the time to provide words of support and encouragement. It may be a letter that gets read and reread!

Congratulations parents! You have just given your first college care package!

Read on for the Top 7 ways to save BIG on the college move in