Growing Up Transgender

At birth, we are all assigned a gender according to what appears on the outside, rather than what’s on the inside. What is most often confused is the difference between sex and gender: a person’s sex refers to their anatomy, whereas gender has more nebulous implications related to social roles and how one perceives themselves. As a child grows up, he (or she) may feel that their gender identity does not coincide with the sex they were assigned at birth. Parents may notice their child has an affinity toward clothing and toys associated with the opposite sex. Sometimes, children grow out of this, while for others, these feelings grow stronger and start to influence their personalities.

Developing a Gender Identity

Children who are consistent and persistent about identifying as the opposite gender once they became aware of the social differences between boys and girls will most likely become transgender as adults. It is not unusual for a child to start exhibiting transgender tendencies as they go through puberty. Teens who express that they no longer identify with the gender they were assigned should be supported through therapy or counseling to help navigate through this confusing time in their lives. Sometimes, with the help of a doctor, kids may decide to take hormones to block puberty during early adolescence, and later in adolescence take medications to transition to their preferred gender identity.

Transitions

Transitions can occur in two ways: with the help of hormones that mimic those of the opposite sex, and surgery. If a child took puberty-blocking hormones early on, surgeries like face feminization or breast removal are not necessary. Surgery is only done in adulthood, and a transgender person may choose not to undergo gender reassignment surgery at all.

A Parent’s Role

Your role as a parent of a transgender child should always be supportive. Understand that their gender orientation cannot be changed through your intervention once they have made the decision to be their true self. Various peer-reviewed studies show parenting and socialization do not have as influential an effect on a child’s gender identity as some may think. Gender is something inherent since birth. Validating their identity by calling them by a chosen name and providing them with clothing that reflects their gender identity are two ways to show your support. Make sure to provide them with the tools they need in cases of bullying, and if they begin to struggle with mental health issues. A transition can be a tumultuous time for the whole family, so make sure you are taking care of yourself as well. Be sure to speak with your child’s pediatrician about available services that can provide guidance on issues related to the LGBTQ+ community.

School Bus Etiquette

Most schools provide transportation for children depending on where the family resides. But often, parents are more comfortable driving their children to school, especially when their child has the “first day jitters.” Parents may not always be available to drive their children to school, pick them up, or even be there when they get dropped off at the bus stop, so it’s important to be aware of the basic rules and etiquette of riding the school bus.

Rules and Etiquette

There are several rules to follow on and off the school bus. Here’s a list of the basics:
1. When seated, be sure to always face forward and wear your seatbelt.
2. Remain seated while bus is moving.
3. If there are assigned seats, be sure to sit in them during each ride.
4. Keep hands and feet inside the bus and out of the aisle at all times.
5. No pushing or shoving when entering or exiting the bus.
6. Know the Danger Zone rule: if you can touch the bus, you’re too close to it.
7. Be aware of emergency exits on the bus.

What to do if there are problems on the bus

If your child has an altercation or a conflict on the school bus, be sure to get a full understanding of the situation and contact the appropriate authority. Keep in mind that the bus driver is neither qualified nor responsible to mediate any issues between children or their parents.

Grade Retention

A child getting left behind in school or having to repeat a grade is unfortunately more common than one may think. The good news is that research shows the percentage of children left behind has decreased from 3% to 1.5% from 2005 to 2010. This percentage continues to decrease due to the No Child Left Behind Act. But what happens when a child is held back, or retained, and doesn’t deserve to be? Or if a child goes on to the next grade level even when they aren’t ready?

Reasons for retainment

Children are usually retained in the same grade due to internal and external factors. Internal factors include struggles with progressing on skills or stagnating performance levels. External factors include learning disabilities, the learning environment, and trouble at home.

Internal factors can be helped by tutoring and summer school, while external factors can require more assistance. If a student has a learning disability, appropriate measures must be taken to provide suitable education for that child. If a child is having trouble at home and can’t seem to focus in the learning environment, then it’s important to meet with the student to determine his or her needs and help guide and motivate them.

Is it effective?

Repeating the same grade again doesn’t always help the student reach necessary achievements. In fact, sometimes it does the exact opposite. A study done in 2014 concluded that children who repeat a grade between kindergarten and fifth grade are 60% less likely to graduate high school than kids in similar circumstances. A child having to repeat a grade can also have a lasting effect on their confidence in the long-term.

Coping with Early Risers

For young children, sleep is necessary to maintain proper growth and development. Children who have trouble staying asleep until a decent hour in the morning will often become cranky and overtired throughout the day. Many parents may go through a phase with their pre-school to school-aged child in which the child wakes up at an unreasonable time. If your child is waking up before 5am, there are ways to cope with this and suggestions to help shift their sleep pattern.

Use a radio as the alarm clock

One suggestion is to use a radio as an alarm clock and set it to go off at 7am. Be sure to let your child know that they cannot get out of bed until the radio starts playing. Remind them that they can read a book or play quietly with some toys in the room until the alarm goes off if they can’t fall back asleep.

Keep it dark

Another thing to consider is the light coming into the room. If there are windows with sunlight coming through in the mornings, think about buying blackout curtains or installing blinds to keep the room dark. This will make the room more sleep-friendly, allowing your child to stay asleep longer.

Bedtime stories and music

Lastly, getting in a pattern of winding down for about an hour before bed each night can do wonders in regulating their sleep. A great way to do this is either by reading them a book or listening to soft music that will help relax them. Also, think about their set bedtime; is it too early? Maybe shift it back just 15 minutes later.

Following a set schedule for several weeks should help you see a shift in your child’s sleep patterns. As a result, they will be better energized for the day and you will be able to sleep just a little longer in the mornings.

Handling Your Child’s Fear of the Dark

Children have big imaginations, and with that can come even bigger fears. Young children do not have the ability to distinguish between what is fantasy and what is considered reality. Without this distinction, a child’s mind easily turns harmless noises and shadows into big, scary monsters. These fears often arise when the room is dark and it’s hard to tell that nothing is really there. Here are a few tips on how to help your children overcome their fear of the dark:

Monitor Content

It is important to make sure that the programming your child is consuming while watching television is appropriate for their age group. Watching content that is not appropriate for the child is an easy way for fears to come about. Stay aware of what is on the television when the child is around and consider parental controls for when you can’t be with your child. Age recommendations can be a helping guide, but you as a parent should decide what your child is mature enough to see.

Use A Flashlight

Giving your child a flashlight to keep by their bedside is a great way to lessen their fear of the dark. The child will feel more in control when they are having trouble detecting what is real and what isn’t. Plugging in a night light in your child’s room or close by in a hallway is another simple way to reassure your child that everything is okay.

Encourage, Acknowledge and Reassure

Encouraging your children to talk about their fears is important. This will keep an open line of communication, so they will continue to come to you for support. Being aware of your child’s fear is necessary to try and combat it. Acknowledging their fears and reassuring them that you will keep them safe is necessary as well.

A child being afraid of the dark is common and it should be nothing to worry about. Try out these simple solutions but if the problem continues, contact your pediatrician.

School Discipline

If your child is having disciplinary problems at school, there are things you can do as a parent to help turn around the behavior. Though you may feel like what they do in school is largely out of your control, you can still influence their behavior by supporting classroom rules inside the home. Having consistent expectations between home and school can help your child adjust their behavior.

As a parent, you tend to see your children in a positive light – and why wouldn’t you, they’re your children! If you disagree with a disciplinary action the school has taken, make sure you do not express your feelings directly to your child, but rather to the teacher or school personnel. Your attitude towards the school can greatly influence your children. Communicating your concerns directly to the appropriate teachers and administrative staff will help you give your children the guidance they need.

School discipline can be a difficult subject for parents of children with ADHD. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) makes sitting silently in a classroom difficult, and it is not uncommon for children to give in to their urge to talk without raising their hand or distract classmates. While consequences for actions that disregard classroom rules are important, you may feel like your child is being punished too often considering their ADHD. Have a conversation with their teacher about how discipline is handled. For example, staying inside during recess may not be an appropriate punishment for a person with ADHD as recess is the time when they can chat with friends and release energy.

Always keep in mind that school discipline is necessary for a teacher to keep up with a classroom full of kids. The time may come when your well-behaved child is sent home with a note, and it’s important to talk to your child about his classroom conduct. Punishments should never cause your child bodily harm, and they should never humiliate your child. If that happens, you should immediately contact school personnel.
 

How to Reinforce Your Child’s Learning

With the distractions of tablets, TV, and phones, your child can easily forget some of the things she learned in school and become consumed with distractions after the dismissal bells ring. Reinforcing learning at home is more important than ever in the modern age. Take an active role in the time your child spends at home and encourage healthy behaviors early on.

Talk About Your Day

Opening communication between you and your child once they get home is the first step in peering into their academic at-home needs. Ask your children if they can recall something they learned that day and pay attention to their answer – if they can teach you something they learned, it reinforces a new skill that they are more likely to remember the next day. Since communication goes both ways, talk about your day with your children as well, in case they need a bit more motivation to share.

Read Together

Reading is a lifelong skill that your children will thank you for when they are able to get through dense textbooks later in their academic careers. Make sure they have a positive relationship with books and that they see you reading as well. Bedtime stories for young children are extremely important as well.

Encourage Creativity

Time at home doesn’t have to be all books, especially when children are young. In place of playing “interactive” games on tablets, make sure they have access to markers, coloring books, tape and other art supplies to stimulate their minds. It is also a good idea to keep lined paper and pencils around to encourage children to write creatively. Even writing their own rendition of an episode of a television show they love can fall under this category! Writing may help their reading skills as well.