(BPT) - The butterflies in your stomach. The wonder in your eyes. The questions on your mind. You probably remember the mix of emotions at the start of a new school year. From nervousness to excitement — and everything in between — it's emotional for students of all ages.
This back-to-school season is not in any lesson plan. From online learning to kids spending time away from their parents for the first time in months, new challenges await and everyone could use a little extra love as they work through it all.
Sometimes, the moments love is needed most can be overlooked. According to a national survey among real families conducted by Rice Krispies Treats®, a gap exists between how much kids want a little extra encouragement versus how much parents think their children want to receive encouraging words during key school year moments. When kids seek reassurance, many parents don’t realize how important their tender words are:
- More than 75% of kids say meeting a new teacher, starting a new school and trying out for a new sports team are times when they need extra love from their parents. However, less than 50% of parents think their kids need more support during these moments.
- As kids get older, they need as much support, or even more, than they did when they were younger. Yet parents admit they show less support to children ages 9 to 12 than those ages 7 to 8.
- When kids leave for school each morning is the top moment they crave more support.
Steps to close the love gap and support kids this school year
Being aware that kids of all ages need a little extra love is the first step. The next step is to take action in meaningful ways to show love and kindness to children. Here are three easy ideas to help you get started:
1. Morning boost
The morning is the perfect time to set the tone for the day. Make a habit of always hugging children at the start of the day, whether that's before they head on the computer to attend a digital classroom or head out the door to catch the bus. If you have a spare moment, share 5-10 minutes of conversation over breakfast. This really starts the day on a positive note while bringing you closer.
2. Give handwritten notes
Even though it's just a little note, it can speak volumes. The survey reveals that nearly 80% of kids want handwritten notes from their parents! Write a note and stick it on the mirror in the morning when they wake up. Leave a sweet surprise by sharing a note on a Rice Krispies Treats writable wrapper and tuck it in their lunch or leave it on the table for an after-school snack.
“While most parents know the importance of showing love and support to nurture their children, there are certain moments when kids need extra love to flourish,” said author of the bestselling book Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed and licensed family therapist, Lori Gottlieb. “A handwritten note on a Rice Krispies Treats writable wrapper is a great, and simple, way for parents to give this added boost of confidence.”
3. Evening heart-to-hearts
The daytime can be extremely busy for families, with everyone balancing their own schedules, work, hobbies and friends. Bedtime is often one of the calmest parts of the day, so it is the ideal time to slow down and show a little love. Whether you're snuggling with your toddler who just started preschool or sitting down with your teen before turning in, nighttime is perfect for sharing peaks and pits of the day. Give it a try — you might be surprised at how many heart-to-heart conversations you have when you are relaxed and winding down for the day.
It's time to shine a little extra love on the moments that need it most this school year. These simple ideas can have a deep impact on how kids are feeling, especially during stressful times such as when they head back to school. A little effort shows you care a tremendous amount.
For more inspiration from Lori Gottlieb and Rice Krispies Treats on what to say to your kids as they take on school year challenges, visit www.ricekrispies.com.
 Data from an online survey of 600 parents and 402 children in the U.S. conducted by KRC Research from March 19 to March 31, 2020.