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The school year. The excitement of new notebooks and new pens and colored pencils. The fun of seeing friends after the summer and settling back into a routine. The thrill for parents of micromanaging the details of their child’s homework, sports schedules, play practices, and club meetings. What, you don’t love micromanaging all of this? Where is your helicopter? If the anticipation of the school year keeps you awake at night, we have some ideas for you. What if this year you transition your student to owning his or her homework, grades, and activities? “Seriously?” you ask. “Let Mark remember to bring his practice uniform on soccer days and bring it home to be washed? He might scare off all the ladies with his three day sweat-infused socks. Count on Michaela to pack her backpack the night before so she is on time to homeroom? Without reminding her? Are you kidding?” No. Not kidding. Depending on the age of your son or daughter, it is very likely that you are clinging to some responsibilities that would be better transitioned over to them.

Let’s think about what it looks like to step back so your child steps forward. What is one school responsibility you have been holding onto that your son or daughter could totally manage? Consider these and other possibilities:

Remember, it is not about knowing they can successfully manage their school responsibilities today. It’s about giving them the opportunities to grow into successfully managing them. There will probably be some mistakes and maybe (if needed) some coaching along the way—but that’s part of learning how to step forward on their own with confidence.

As a foster parent, psychotherapist, and expert in family and teen therapy, Amy Morin—author of 13 Things Mentally Strong Parents Don’t Do—has witnessed first-hand what works: “When children have the skills they need to deal with challenges in their everyday lives, they can flourish socially, emotionally, behaviorally, and academically. With appropriate support, encouragement, and guidance from adults, kids grow stronger and become better.”

Talk with your kids about what they think they can manage themselves. Ask them how they will transition to own this skill. What do they want from you and what can you count on them for? Do they (or you) need a check-off list or chart? If so, ask them to make it. Do they need a reminder? What would a good reminder be (sticky note on the door or mirror, alarm on their phone or automated reminder on the phone, note on the fridge)? Have them set it up and take ownership of it.

Try your best not to nag, remind, helicopter, over-check, or do any of these things while pretending not to. This is letting them learn. Giving them the chance to succeed or fail or fall somewhere in between. It is ok. The stakes are small. This does not go on your permanent record (and even if it does, it is better to have a ding on a school record than to start one with the police). If you set a reasonable timeframe for them to manage this skill, you can have a check-in conversation at the end. If they make a mistake in the middle, refrain from correcting. It’s fine to ask if they need any help, but unless they say “yes,” back away and continue to let them work toward owning this. If they blow it, give them a Mulligan. This is the crux of leading your child on the path toward responsible, unentitled adulthood. They have to try hard things and feel the full brunt of their decisions and actions. They have to feel the feeling of achievement when they succeed without any parental involvement. This is the “high” we want them to feel. This is what we want them to seek more of. You will be amazed when they get going on this and start to take on more and more responsibility without your help in the process.

The rewards for this are monumental. They feel proud of their maturity. You feel proud of their accomplishment. This builds trust and mutual respect for your ongoing relationship. They feel empowered to move on to bigger and better things. You can enjoy the break from feeling responsible for everything. The goal becomes finding new things to move from your plate to theirs. The helicopter has landed.

As a mom of two children who were born in the summer, I am all too familiar with the unique challenges that summer birthday celebrations hold. I remember being very pregnant with my second son and lamenting his due date, worried that he would always feel left out, having a birthday close to a holiday and never being able to celebrate with his school classmates. Thankfully, my husband reminded me that there were plenty of amazing aspects to having a summer birthday. After planning many summer birthday celebrations, I have learned how to navigate the challenges–and take advantage of the opportunities–that summer birthdays can hold. Here are some tried-and-true ways for making your child’s summer birthday fun and memorable.

Celebrating at School

As an elementary teacher, I love watching my students deliver treats and wear their birthday crowns with pride. Celebrating a birthday at school seems to be a rite of passage in our culture. One disappointing aspect of having a summer birthday is that children often aren’t at school on their birthday. I offer parents three options for celebrating their child’s summer birthday in my classroom: To celebrate at the beginning of school, to celebrate a half-birthday, or to celebrate at the end of the school year. Keep in mind your child’s actual birthdate. A June birthday is easily celebrated at the end of the school year, whereas the half-birthday for a July 1st birthday will likely fall during most schools’ holiday breaks (January 1st). The date that you choose isn’t nearly as important as allowing your child a chance to be celebrated by his classmates.

Setting the Date

When my oldest child was in preschool, he received a birthday invitation three months in advance of a friend’s party. At the time, to be honest, I wondered if that parent may have lost her mind. But now, I realize that her plan was quite brilliant. It can be very tricky to plan a birthday party for a child when school is not in session (how do you pass out invitations?) and when so many families are on vacation. But by sending invitations early, families will have your child’s party blocked out in their calendar, and you are sure to have better attendance. Don’t forget to choose your date wisely (Is the 4th of July weekend really a great idea?), and be sure to keep your own family’s summer schedule in mind.

Choosing a Location

One of the best things about celebrating a summer birthday is the advantage of planning warm-weather activities. Summers are the best time to host parties at an outdoor venue, such as a pool, a local park, or even your own backyard. I have hosted several fun, inexpensive birthday parties right in my backyard. These birthday parties are relaxed, low-key, and allow kids to have fun playing games they enjoy, or even hold a water balloon battle. Just don’t forget to have a contingency plan in case of inclement weather.

While summer birthdays can hold unique challenges, they also hold amazing opportunities. No matter when your child’s birthday is, make a plan in advance to ensure an experience that includes all the joys that accompany childhood birthday celebrations. It doesn’t matter when your little one was born, it matters that they are growing into wonderful little people. Birthdays allow us to reflect on all that our children have accomplished in the last year. They also provide a beautiful opportunity to show our children that we care.