Tag Archives: back-to-school

Managing the Back-to-School Blues

14 Sep
Are you ready to tackle the back-to-school blues in your house? Our guest, Dr. Keith Kanner, will give you some tips on how to manage the blues.
     Background:  By the end of this week, most children and adolescents will be back to school.  Although most parents took the appropriate measures to prepare them by talking about it and getting the needed “back to school supplies”, nevertheless, going back to school after summertime represents a significant transition for most kids. Typically, the first month back after summer is when parents experience the most significant battles over homework, getting up in the morning, turning off those cell phones, and being generally cooperative.  Such manifestations are due to the natural feelings that all children and adolescents experience when going back to school – a combination of frustration and perhaps some excitement about seeing their friends.  The adult comparison would be going back to work after a vacation where there was an absence of business problems, meetings, and deadlines.
     Adults seem to have an easier time understanding the concept of “Monday Morning Blues”, then being able to put themselves in the shoes of their children and responding as though they know how they feel.  However, children truly appreciate when their parent can associate with their inner experiences without them having to express themselves in words.  Remember the days when your child was an infant and as a caring and invested parent, you could determine what type of cry determined what particular feeling in them?  This was all done without words.  Just because a child develops the capacity to speak does not erase how important it is for parents to be able to “read” their child’s non-verbal cues to determine their mental state.  In fact, as children develop and strive towards independence from their parents, they naturally speak less until they get through the adolescent years, but still rely on that caring parent to “know them”.  Here, is where the continual investment of parenting comes into action – being able to let your child know that you know them and how they must feel.  Even making the attempt to convey your perception is worth the chance that they may tell you are wrong, but at least you tried and there is a chance they might actually share what it is they are feeling.
     Putting this concept into place comes in handy over this next month.  Most children and teenagers will have some “normal” adjustment issues to going back to school which could manifest in a number of typical ways:  a refusal to do homework; trouble getting up in the morning; irritability; acting out; and even some infrequent bed wetting, just to name a few.  Each of these “symptoms” are just that – indicators that your child is experiencing some very strong feelings about going back to school.  How a parent responds to this “regression” is very important however.  Perhaps the most common parental mistake is to just punish the behavior.  Punishment by itself does not work, but communicate to the child that their feelings and behavior are both bad.  There is a big difference between a feeling and a behavior.  It is a matter of how feelings are handled and the role of any parent is to help their child learn how to better manage feelings, not feel bad about them.  When parents merely punish a behavior, most children then generalize that the feeling was “bad” too and then a development of guilt over feelings becomes a pathological pattern rather than the emphasis be placed on appropriate behaviors.
     So, if your child is having such a “regression” due to school resuming, talk to them about how they are feeling and work together with them to get through the initial “shock period” of getting back into school.  Empathize, share how it was for you when you were a kid, and help them get their “job” accomplished by encouragement and some limits if necessary to “help” them manage, not punish them for feeling frustrated and perhaps saddened that vacation is over for a while.
Key Points:
1. Most kids will have some normal adjustment issues about going back to school
2. Help them by talking to them about how you think they must feel
3. Both emphasize and help them stay on track with rewards and limits
4. Punishing behavior by itself is limited in effectiveness
5.  Regression typically weans over the first month back to school
Dr. Keith Kanner
Anchor/Host Your Family Matters – Wsradio.com
Host:  Ask The Doctors:  Relationship Edition
Fox 5 News – San Diego
www.kanner.tv

Getting Your Kids Back “Into” School

17 Aug
Special thanks to our guest blogger, Dr. Keith Kanner, psychologist, author and radio host of Your Family Matters
Background: If your family is like most, your children and adolescents are still in a state of denial that school begins in about three weeks from now. As parents however, you are ready for the summer to end and excited about getting them back into structure yet you fear their adjustment into a new year of academics and wonder if they are prepared to manage the tasks ahead. Many parents avoid the concept of talking to their children about a new school year for they fear putting their children into bad moods and getting into a fight. On the other hand, when parents do not approach talking about getting ready for school and looking ahead to expectations for success, the avoided conflicts tend to emerge shortly after school begins when problems may already have arisen.
As with any transition, preparing ahead of time is always a good idea. When situations are thought through, discussed, and planned for, there tends to be less anxiety generated and a greater likelihood for success. Young children in particular are not yet capable of thinking in the abstract and plan ahead and need assistance in understanding what is expected of them and how to reach their goals. Many times parents place responsibilities on their children that they are not able to developmentally manage which can set their child up for failure. The responsibilities of school are common areas where parents either expect their child to manage themselves or rely on the school to teach them how to both organize and study.
Parents of both grade and middle school students need to sit down with their children prior to each school year and discuss both expectations and plans on how to help them succeed. Reviewing the importance of school, your faith in their abilities to manage their work, and discussing concepts such as studying, organization, and note taking are all essential in making sure their child feels prepared. Often times after such discussions, the parents and child determine that there may be some areas that need some assistance and this can then be provided which then serves to avoid a later problem. As I have discussed in prior segments, self esteem is generated when the child him of herself experiences success. When the child has the tools necessary to manage their life, success is more likely.
Structure is also very important.  Children and adolescents who have a daily “routine” tend to do better academically and socially.  For example, it is always a good idea to have an after-school plan which entails: 1) an after-school snack; 2) some time for play or sport; and then 3) a scheduled homework time to be performed in a distraction-free environment.  Once homework has been completed, a “reward” time can be offered to celebrate getting through their assignments after a long day of school.  When children have something to look forward towards, they tend to feel less frustrated and seem more motivated.
For the high school student, who can think in the abstract and hopefully understand that their success at this time of their academic life will serve later goals, discussions are also necessary but inquiring with them about how they plan to manage their school work will make them feel as though you respect their intellect. If however, you determine that they do not seem able to manage themselves well enough, you will have to help them as well. Allowing children and adolescents to “learn from their mistakes” is poor judgment on the part of the parent for the child and adolescent is not yet mature enough to manage their lives independently without parents.
A special consideration needs to be made for children who are also starting a new school. Aside from preparing them for the academic tasks ahead, care also needs to be made in terms of helping them adjust to a new environment with new social and developmental challenges. Visiting the new school prior to beginning the school year is always a good idea even if the campus is empty of students. Here, your child can at least get a feel for the new surroundings which will make them less anxious once they arrive on the first day of school.
Key Points
1. discuss school beginning with your child now
2. review expectations for the year ahead of time
3.  implement structure to help with success
4. make sure they have an academic plan and can perform the required tasks
5. get them some help if needed early
6. visit the school ahead of time if a new environment
Dr. Keith Kanner
Anchor/Host Your Family Matters
www.kanner.tv

Ready or Not, Here It Comes

27 Jul

Over the next five weeks, Brenda will be blogging about getting kids ready for back-to-school. Each week will cover a new topic to prepare kids for a successful start of a new year.

Ahhh….It’s early morning, and I’m relishing the peaceful stillness and a cup of coffee while my kids are still fast asleep. Screeeech! (That is the sound effect you would hear my brain making if this was television.) At this time, three weeks from now, I will have already spent two hours waking up kids, feeding them a healthy breakfast, making lunches, making sure they have everything for their first day of school and getting them out the door on time. Whew! It would be so much easier if they went to the same school with the same starting times. But no, for us, it’s high school, middle school and elementary school. My peaceful, early mornings will soon be a thing of the past-starting next week.

Two weeks before school is the magic date for us to get back in shape for the start of a new year; regular bed times and wake up times. Just the thought of the first few days with the kids on that schedule sends shivers up my spine, especially with two teenagers. But, as a former teacher, and mother, I know how important sleep is for my children’s physical, mental and emotional health and development and the importance of getting back into a sleep routine before school starts, not when school starts.

Resuming regular bedtimes starts with some planning. First and foremost, I give our kids a week of reminders that we will be starting our sleep schedule routine. Of course this hinders my high schooler’s social life tremendously, but she’s the one who needs the most sleep! During that week, I begin planning which consists of finding as many exhausting activities as possible for each day. It could be the zoo, swimming, hiking, play dates, washing the cars, or any other physically exhausting activities. Once you have your plan in place, share it with your family because your kids will be more comfortable if they know what the plan entails.

At the two-week mark, it’s time to implement the plan. It starts with a good bedtime routine the night before making sure we get to bed at least a half hour earlier than we have been during the summer. Wake your kids up at a reasonable time the next morning and allow them to acclimate. The first several days will be challenging but hang in there. Enjoy your activities in the morning and afternoon saving the evening for quieter activities that signal bedtime. Each night, put your child to bed and wake them up 15 minutes earlier until they are on their school schedule. Make sure that you get to bed on time, too.

With a little planning and implementing, you’ll get the new school year off to a great start, and your child’s teacher will appreciate your effort.

For more information on back-to-school sleep routines, visit our campus by clicking here or WebMD

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