Change is Constant
You have been in your summer routine for three months and it’s time for kids to go back to school. Part of you may be looking forward to having the kids out of the house, and part of you may be grieving the loss of freedom that comes with summer’s play time.
Back to school stressors include:
- Scheduling Challenges – Managing calendars for everyone in the house is difficult, especially at the onset of the school year.
- Cost – There are additional expenses associated with school supplies, clothing, commuting, sports and activities, and in some cases, tuition.
- Transportation – Who needs to be where, at what time, and how do they get there and home?
- Fear of the Unknown – There will be new teachers, new classmates and in some cases new schools. There will be a more difficult curriculum, which includes teacher demands, homework and extracurricular activities.
- Social Issues – Changing social cliques, advanced or delayed physical development, rivalries, bullies and being judged or teased can create apprehension for kids and parents alike.
- Appearance – Acne, clothes, a bad hair cut and makeup issues all impact self image and add to the stress of going back to school.
It’s Hard For Them – It’s Hard For You
Change is hard. In fact, there is a whole field of study dedicated to this called Change Management. When everybody gets stressed out, there is a greater possibility of the almost inevitable blow-up. As parents we need to realize what everybody is going through including ourselves. Fortunately, most kids are resilient. They are well suited to cope with change if you just give them a little support. For those that aren’t resilient, additional support may be needed.
Your childhood experience with going back to school will impact how your approach your children going back to school. For example if you were bullied at school, your energy around your kids going back to school may be poisoned. Our children often pick up on our energy making back to school more difficult for them. If school was traumatic for you, I can help through the use of Brainspotting and other treatment modalities.
The emotions associated with back to school stress run the full gamut for all involved:
- Excitement and Joy – They are happy see their friends and start on a new adventure. You are happy to get them out of the house. Some kids can get bored and are looking forward to the challenges of the new school year.
- Fear – It’s a new school year: new friends, new teachers, new expectations.
- Anger – Some people react to change with anger. It is the culmination of all of the fear and stress.
- Sadness – The summer is over along with all of the fun activities that go along with summer. Perhaps they made new friends they won’t see again.
Families can experience circumstances such as relocating, financial challenges, loss, divorce, and death that can all make a difficult situation worse. If you are dealing with any of these issues and need support, call me (303) 444-2003.
10 Helpful Tips for Dealing with Back to School Stress
- Take some time to acknowledge and empathize with what your children are going through.
- When possible, be proactive. Discuss expectations ahead of time.
- Start getting the whole family into the rhythm of school as soon as possible. Change bedtime and wake time several days before the first day of school.
- Change eating habits to support learning (less junk food, more proteins and complex carbs). Be sure to eat together as a family. Research shows that one of the best indicators of kids emotional health and future success is family meal time.
- Practice the first day routine. Make sure everybody knows where to be and at what time.
- Plan some time for unstructured play for the whole family. This is important for healthy brain development.
- If you are new to a school or to the community, get to know the parents in your kid’s grade.
- If possible, volunteer in your children’s school. Get to know the teachers and administrators. Take advantage of special programs such as tutoring, IEP’s/504 plans, Special Education, and Gifted and Talented programs designed to help kids be successful.
- Allow for healthy outlets for stress: exercise, rest, diet, and play.
- Focus on self care. A more relaxed and confident parent is better able to help his or her kids deal with back to school stress and foster healthier and more resilient kids who know how to deal with change.