Put a Rock in Your Kid’s Backpack



photo (47)  As a new school year kicks off, I got to thinking. If a parent could only put one thing into their kid’s backpack for the new school year, what would it be? New clothes? New shoes? A new lunchbox? A new calculator? All those things are good and needed, but I was thinking of something a little more ‘down to earth’—a rock.

I am not very physically coordinated. On a scale of 1-10 if an Olympic athlete is a 10, I’d be a .5 on the scale of physical coordination awesomeness. When I met my husband, who would fall as at least a 9 on the scale, I was a bit self conscious of my lack of physical ability. But, true love conquerors and he helped me learn a new level of physical coordination. He taught me to look for the stable rocks on the mountain paths that we hiked. As I practiced this skill, that to some would come naturally, I became a better and more adept hiker. The habit of placing my feet on the large stable rocks on the path helped me be more secure and less likely to slip on the loose gravel under my feet. That is exactly what kids need to avoid the slips and falls of the new school year. They need to stand on a stable rock.

How can you as a parent place stability into a child’s life? The first and foremost way is by adding routine into the life of your family. Keep the morning, after school, and evening routine the same as possible Monday-Friday. The morning should include time to wake up, eat breakfast, make lunches, and arrive at school on time and unstressed. This stable routine can start the school day of the child in a positive and comfortable manner. However, to have a calm morning routine you need a purposeful evening routine. Baths, bedtime, and sleep should be early enough to make sure your child or teen is getting enough sleep. As a parent, making and keeping a bedtime routine is one of the best forms of stability you can give your kid. However, you can’t have a calm nightly routine unless you have a good routine in the afternoon after school. The main focus must be homework and then extracurricular activities. Since school is a kid’s work, homework must be top priority. By keeping a stable afternoon and evening routine, you are insuring a stable morning routine and school success.

Another way to build stability in the life of your children is to not change the living situation during the school year if at all possible. Change is the number one cause of stress, so the least amount of change in the life of the family the less stress for all. If a household move is necessary, try to work around the school year. A student’s school day is the core of his life. Your kid spends 8 hours a day at school, like an adult does at work. A family move is an upheaval in his life just as it would be in yours. If the family can work around the school calendar it will help the kids’ transition with necessary change.

A third way to build stability into your kid’s life is to build a healthy family structure on the weekends. Family time and church time can build a foundation of values that your kid can rely on and count on for the rest of his life. In fact, this will become the rock on which he can stand when the slips and falls of life occur. It is in the routine of family time and church time—time with his parents, siblings, extended family, and God—that your child will discover values, beliefs, experiences, and memories to take a firm and solid stand on for the rest of his life. When you are not with him everyday, these values, beliefs, experiences, and memories will be under his feet so that he does not fall.

Lastly, build stability into your children by letting them know every day that they are loved no matter what they do or don’t do. Show your children unconditional love like God extends to each one of us. At our house, we try to remind our kids that the one true rock in our world is God. King David said, “The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom, I take refuge.” (Psalm 18:2) After reminding them of God’s love, we remind them often that they are loved deeply by their parent. For many years my husband has picked up rocks to give me and our kids. Some of these rocks are from special far away places, but some of these are rocks that just caught his attention as he was walking in his daily life. With each rock he gives our kids, he reminds them how much he loves them. The rock is a solid reminder to them of his unconditional love. The last two summers, our younger adult daughter has traveled across the world. Guess what souvenir she brought us both summers? Yep, a rock; but it’s so much more than a rock. It is a reminder to us that she heard us and that she knows and understands the importance of love and stability, God and family.

So, if there is only one thing you can afford to put into your child’s backpack during this new school year, let it be a rock—a rock to stand on and hold on to—for good times and bad, for now, and for the rest of his life.

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