Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Is it really fall again? Back to School? Schedules and more? Stress?


by Amy Rollo, Clinical Director
Is it really the fall again? With the fall comes many excitements including going back to school, college football, and best yet pumpkin spice lattes are back in season… Okay, maybe I am the only one that becomes excited over the latter. The fall brings many good things, but also some jitters. Children begin to think about class schedules, parents prepare themselves for their new routine of pick-ups, drop offs, and after school activities, and a whole new hectic routine begins again.

We can set our children up for success this school year. First day of school jitters begin not only because of seeing new classmates, but also the abrupt change in their schedule. Help your child to adapt by beginning their new routine early. Keep bedtimes and bedtime routines as much as possible. Keep the same expectations of limited screen and television time during the remainder of the summer months. If you expect your child to play videogames only an hour a day during the school months, help set this expectation by monitoring their use now. Most importantly, add in a family night once a week. Before the schedules become over run by after school activities, homework, and science projects, have a designated night that the family spends together. This can set the tone for the rest of the school year and demonstrates the importance placed on family.

Back to school anxiety also comes from performance anxiety. It will be important to emphasize effort and not grade. If a child’s best work is a B, then that should be the goal. Never place an arbitrary expectation on your child, as each child has different strengths and weaknesses. Allow your child to understand that love and support comes no matter the grade made or performance at a sporting event. To decrease performance anxiety, practice positive affirmations before big tests where you discuss why the child is confident in his or her abilities. Have them visualize tackling the assignment or scoring the winning goal while keeping their body relaxed.

Lastly, having a visual chart that shows the family’s weekly schedule can decrease the child’s stress during the chaotic schedule change. Having a checklist or flow chart that is kept on the family refrigerator or door can help the child be prepared for transitions and ease anxiety with rushing out the door. It would benefit the family to review the week’s schedule every Sunday to mark off big homework assignments or projects and schedule when the child will work on each project. Keeping organized is also difficult when the school year progresses, so check on your child’s backpack and binder during this time to ensure they are keeping up with their organization.

The Center For Children & Families is happy to help during these stressful times, whether it is parent consultation, play therapy, AD/HD coaching, evaluations, or counseling. Good luck with the fall and new school year, and don’t forget to enjoy those pumpkin spice lattes; the time they are around really does go by too fast...