These last lazy hazy days of summer are fading faster than blowing a good bye have-a-nice-day kiss, as kids and parents begin prepping for the return to school and structure. Regardless of your child’s age, a range of emotions will be racing through those meridian lines.
Remember your first day at school or on the job - or your first job – a few uncertainties maybe?
Studies indicate school, fitting in and belonging lead kids’ anxiety list. Worries range from starting school, attending a different school in a new neighbourhood, meeting new kids and major school transitions, such as from elementary school to middle or high school. Then there’s last year’s unfinished business – read, “bully.” Separation anxieties can also extend to who will help them through an asthma attack, using the bathrooms and changing for gym class.
Being alert to signs that signal frets and fears, discussing what they can expect and ensuring them that you will be there to support them are key. Since most children do not readily admit their fears, the following should help parents stay in tune. Listen, discuss and advise. Let them know that you love them and are there to support them – unconditionally.
Signs That Signal Your Kids Are Worried
- Trouble falling asleep, staying asleep or nightmares.
- Changes in eating or bathroom habits.
- Feigning illness - stomach aches or headaches.
- Mood swings, argumentative, increased irritability,aggression and anger.
- Excessive clinging.
- Closes the computer or hangs up the phone as you approach.
- Friends seem to have disappeared.
How to Help Your Kids Beat the Back-to-School Blues
- Shop for new clothes with your kids and pick up the newest school supplies.
- Plan lunch menus. Include a special first day back-to-school treat.
- Arrange a play date a week before school starts to reconnect with old friends.
- Create a comfortable study space.
- Discuss all the dos and don’ts from crossing the street safely to talking to strangers.
- Talk about what to do if your child is picked on or bullied. For example, if someone threatens him, hurts him or forces him to give up his lunch money.
- New neighbourhood, new school. Contact the new school, find out who lives in the neighbourhood and get them together. Also, check out the local park.
- Children with learning disabilities have many challenges to deal with. A good start can make all the difference. Talk to them about it and give them lots of emotional support.
- Continue reminding your children about all the wonderful things they excel in.
- Parents, don’t be afraid to ask your kids if there’s anything troubling them. You’re not meddling. You’re opening necessary communication lines. Keep them open!
Making Mom’s and Dad’s Mad-Dash Mornings Manageable
- Set out the following day' s clothes the night before along with all the homework and pack the backpack.
- Decide on the breakfast menu.
- Have lunch ready in the fridge, with a loving note, picture or joke tucked inside. It can do wonders to brighten up their day.
- Establish wake-up times and second calls. Discuss consequences for sleeping in and missing breakfast or the bus.
- Make a list for yourself and for each child to check off in the morning to ensure everyone remembers everything.
- The atmosphere you create for your child in the morning, will impact his entire day. Choose cheerfulness!
- Set your alarm 15-30 minutes earlier. Gulp the leaded java, sip the wheatgrass or do your stretches while you can.
- Exhale, thank the Universe and wake your SHINING STARS!
Alexandra Penn, Founder, Crisis Intervention Specialist
Stay tuned for the publication of “There’s A Bully In My Belly,” and join the social and emotional journey of Fox and Kang as they interact with friends, receive advice and support from parents and a teacher, and learn the skills to friendship, respect, kindness, confidence and empathy, while discovering resolution along the way.
Alexandra Penn and Leigh Rachel Faith