This time of year brings on a certain feeling of sadness and excitement for me. It always has. It’s that all of the sudden crisp feeling in the air, that time when the CNE is in full swing, and the final days of sleeping in with no alarm clocks or rushing in the house. I can relate to how my kids are starting to feel now. You can just sense it in our home and how they want to savour each and every waking moment. They want to stay up as late as they possibly can at night. And I let them.
I try not to rush things like back-to-school shopping because all that stuff will still in the stores when they are back in. Also, my older one is entering junior high so I know that there will be peer influences on what he will want in terms of clothing and shoes. No rush. I let him lead on the wardrobe front. Plus, the first few weeks back have always been warm enough to continue wearing shorts.
Of course, we will get the necessities for the classroom as provided by the teacher but I’ve always let him take the lead and involve him in the process. Within the next week I’m sure he’ll be asking, “hey, mom should we go get back to school stuff now?”
But besides the shopping, this time of year can be a very stressful time for some kids. More than fresh pencils and a haircut goes through their minds. I know mine is already planning his route to school with his friends, wondering what his teachers will be like, and what the kids will be like from the other schools who are feeding into this new one. And just in time, I received some great tips from Jeffrey Eisen, Life Coach, to help parents manage the transition back-to-school.
Jeffrey Eisen suggests that parents take a different approach to back-to-school and focus on helping kids prepare for and cope with the change that’s coming using 5 simple tips:
1. Re-define your beliefs about what a successful school year means.
What do you want your child to accomplish in the first year? Do you want him to get straight-As? be the most popular kid in class? OR do you prefer if he were happy and learning while being challenged in a positive way? “Many of our beliefs about education are the cause of the stress and pressure our kids feel this time of year,” says Eisen. Re-evaluate what it is you want your kids to get out of the school experience. Consider encouraging them to focus less on being perfect, and more on uncovering their strengths and weaknesses. Let them study to learn, rather than studying to get a perfect grade. Encourage them to think for themselves, to have fun learning, and to excel in whatever areas make them the most happy.
2. Make this about YOUR child and not about you.
If you’re feeling anxious about your child going back to school, ask yourself are these fears coming from my child or from me? “Many of us carry over concerns, fears, and beliefs from our own school days and heap them on our children,” says Eisen. Try to filter out your own fears and desires which could contribute to the stress.
3. Let go of expectations and be ready for anything.
Expectations lead to disappointment. So the more we try to control a situation that’s beyond our control, the more likely we are to be let down. “I used to beileve that if my kids weren’t successful in school, they wouldn’t be successful in life. So, I’d push them to work hard, obey their teachers, and study to succeed,” says Eisen. “Only later did I realize that this expectation was not benefiting them, and was actually contributing to their stress and anxiety.” All of her experiences, no matter how positive or negative them may seem, will be beneficial down the road. So what if your child tries at an extracurricular activity and realizes it’s not for her? So what if your child fails a math test and realizes he needs extra help? So what if your child doesn’t make friends for life in kindergarten? Be open to the fact that with every new school year comes many highs and lows. Allow the year to unfold and offer your child unconditional love and support as things come up.
4. Encourage your child to express and process their emotions.
Transition can be scary for kids and many will be experiencing a flood of emotions as they prepare to go back to school. “When I was a kid I kept all of my emotions bottled up inside, believing that I was a boy and I was suppose to be tough,” says Eisen. This resulted in bleeding ulcers and later Crohn’s Disease – both of which I believe were caused by fear and stress that wasn’t properly expressed.” No matter how your child is expressing his emotions, temper tantrums, not going to bed, pay attention and encourage him to communicate with you about what’s really going on.
5. Make back-to-school a journey not a destination.
As you approach the first day of school, remember this is just one small piece of the learning your child will do in his life. This year isn’t the be all and end all. So have fun with back to school prep. Get your child involved in the process. Help him get excited about trying new things, prepared that failure is inevitable, and confident that no matter what happens he’ll come out of it a stronger person. If your daughter doesn’t make the soccer team, or cries the entire first week of kindergarten, remember that none of this is a reflection on you as parent or her as a person. Try to help your kids enjoy the transition of back-to-school, because after all, they’re kids, and life is supposed to be fun.
Do you and/or your kids have an easy transition back-to-school?
What do you do to ease into the school year?
For more information you can reach Jeffrey Eisen directly at email@example.com or visit his website at www.awakeningtheself.com