Back to School: Tips for Sanity
Jennifer Shivey MA, LPC, RPT
By now, most kids are back in school. Hooray! This usually brings a mix of emotions for both children and their parents. Here are some things to keep in mind as your student embarks on this year’s school journey:
1. The days are long! Especially for children entering kindergarten. Even if your child has attended full time preschool, kindergarten is a whole new game. Naps are gone. They are learning more and adjusting to all the new rules and expectations, at the same time that they are taking in everything that their new environment has to offer. Expect some meltdowns and know that this is normal. Which brings us to the next point…
2. “Why do I hear nothing but rave reviews of my child during the day, yet they lose their s%#! the minute they get home/in the car?” Yeah. I’ve been there. Kids are typically able to keep it together while they are at school. But it takes everything in them to do so. Once they see you, well…you are their safe zone. Their home and family is the one place where they know that no matter what, you will still love and accept them. As such, this is where they can lose it without fear of repercussions. If you find this happening, congratulations! You’ve created a safe environment where they feel ok to show you the not so shiny parts of themselves. Well done! Validate, validate, validate and help them to name their emotions. “It seems like you had a long day. I can tell you’re exhausted. I can see you’re upset – tell me more. It’s ok to feel _____, but I’m not ok with hitting/yelling/throwing/etc.” This will calm down a bit, but don’t take it personally in the meantime.
3. Now is not the time to add extracurricular activities to the schedule. In fact, it might be better to pare those back a bit initially if possible while they are adjusting to school. Again, the days are long and they are nearing max capacity as is. Take this time to establish a routine, and work out any kinks that may need adjustment. See if you can catch the next session of that activity later in the fall.
4. Let your child know you are genuinely interested in their day at school. If you have a child like mine, the answer to “How was your day?,” will always be, “Great!” That’s it. Nothing else. Also, if you happen to be my kid you will decline to share any of your friends’ names because Mommy won’t share her clients’ names with you. <insert eye roll here> Click here to see some alternative ways to ask your child how their day was.
Good luck out there, parents! May the odds be ever in your favor.