Start the School Year Right: Conversations to Have with Your Kids Now

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A new school term can be difficult: there are different schedules, classes, teachers, schools, friends, and expectations. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, approximately 8% of children and adolescents have an anxiety disorder – and it can be prompted by big life events like back-to-school season.[1] But lots of kids feel a little nervous at the beginning of a new school year or after a long break. So, how can parents have helpful conversations with their children this time of year? We’ve got a few ideas from a variety of school surveys, reports and experts.

Online Safety, Bullying and Social Media

We’ve talked before about the impact of screen time and phone use on kids, but let’s dig a little deeper into safety and cyberbullying. It’s important to talk about safe Internet use and set very clear boundaries. Teens and tweens must be taught to protect their own online safety[2]. For example:

Don’t share your password with anyone
Do ask permission before joining social networks or online groups
Don’t meet with anyone you’ve met online
Don’t give personal information including phone number, address, email, school or photos to people you don’t already know in real life and very well.
Don’t respond to hateful or hurtful messages
Do share cruel and upsetting messages with your parents

Cyberbullying isn’t limited to negative interactions or hurtful messages on social media platforms.[3] It can also involve things like impersonation, where one student posts comments pretending to be another, or “fraping,” using a Facebook account without permission to delete comments or pictures, or create new and offensive ones pretending to be you.[4] Both are designed to make kids look bad to their friends and feel isolated. Social isolation and emotional climate at school have an impact on student success and academic achievement.

How You’ll Monitor Homework

“Let your child know that schoolwork is an important part of their education, so it has to be done. It helps absorb the information and prepare for the next day’s lessons. Remind them you’re there to help and support them through any struggles, but homework has to be done.”

— Anastasia, Teacher, Michigan

The Risks of Experimentation with Alcohol, Drugs or Tobacco

Talk openly with your children about the negatives of alcohol at their age and the positives of not experimenting. Knowing that kids may find themselves in situations with risky behaviors, it’s crucial to go over the basics of never drinking and driving – or getting into a car with someone who has been using.

The use of e-cigarettes among adolescents is rising and can be linked to the use of other tobacco products, including conventional cigarettes, according to a 2016 report from the U.S. Surgeon General.[5] Because most tobacco use is established during youth, actions to prevent a lifetime of nicotine addiction among our nation’s youth are essential.[6]

We know from previous posts that talking with kids about drugs and drug use won’t inspire them to start using. Parents can make a difference by setting clear rules for their children. Our surveys show that students whose parents set clear rules about drugs are less likely to use. Not sure where to start? This article may give you some insights into asking the questions you need to ask including how to make them part of general health and safety conversations.[7]

Sometimes New Transitions Are Difficult

“Starting a new school year with new responsibilities piles on the stress. They have to make new friends, take on new responsibilities for doing their school work independently, they have to learn how their new teacher works, etc. I’m trying to let them know I understand how tough it all is. We talk about the worst part of the day, and then the best part. I try to reinforce that time will make things better.”

— Marion, Mom in Indiana

Talk with Kids About Safe Relationships and Sex

Not talking about healthy relationships with your children can be unsafe. No matter your opinion on abstinence or sex education, it’s essential to have conversations related to physical safety. Teen dating violence impacts 1.5 million high school students every year.[8] One in ten high school students has been purposefully hit, slapped or physically hurt by a boyfriend or girlfriend.[9]

The 2017 CDC Youth Risk Behavior Study revealed that of the 13% of ninth-graders who were sexually active that year, only about half said they used a condom in their last sexual encounter. Only about 14% used some other form of contraception.[10] This report also indicates that more than 15% of girls experienced sexual violence by someone who forced her to do sexual things or have intercourse, and nearly 11% of those girls experienced sexual dating violence with someone they were going out with or dating in the 12 months prior to the survey.

Asking these questions isn’t easy. We know; we ask tough questions of students, parents, and educators every day in schools across the United States. Through the Pride Learning Environment Survey, a student evaluation tool for grades 6-12, we can offer insights into the intersection of risk and academic success in the education setting. Its efficient examination of current issues facing educators and education gives hard data through student questionnaires.

Our Social, Emotional and Bullying Behavior Survey is a middle school student survey that assesses bullying perceptions and problem behaviors that impact student engagement. Using SEBBS, schools can determine underlying causes of increased absenteeism, lower academic achievement, and increased substance abuse such as violence, bullying and cyberbullying.

The benefit of choosing a survey company is that we can ask the difficult questions. Please browse the different types of scalable student surveys we offer and find out why more than 13.9 million students, parents, and faculty members have responded to Pride Surveys. Questions about our school climate surveys? Please call us today at 800-279-6361 or fill out our quick online contact form.



[1] “Anxiety Fact Sheet.” Retrieved 24 August 2018 at

[2] “Keeping Your Child Safe on the Internet.” Retrieved 24 August 2018 at

[3] “10 Forms of Cyberbullying.” Retrieved 24 August 2018 at

[4] “Fraping, Social Norms and Online Representations of Self” Retrieved 24 August 2018 at

[5] “E-Cigarette Use Among Youth and Young Adults: A Report of the Surgeon General.” Retrieved 24 August 2018 at

[6] Ibid.

[7] “Talking to Your Child About Drugs.” Retrieved 24 August 2018 at

[8] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Physical Dating Violence Among High School Students—United States, 2003.” Retrieved 24 August 2018 at

[9] Ibid.

[10] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “High School Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System

United States 2017 Results.” Retrieved 24 August 2018 at

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