How to Transition Back to School Successfully and Avoid Crisis
Heading back to school isn’t always a picnic. If you’re having a tough time, you’re certainly not alone. Transitions are generally tough on our kiddos as it is. Not only does school bring an adjustment in schedule, but it can also cause a lot of anxiety. There is a new routine, new teacher, new classroom, and maybe, even a new school.
The best approach is a proactive one. Here are some back-to-school tips you can implement today so that your family comes out on top!
In a world where kids spend most of their days with their peers and have a limited “village” of adults, they need adults to keep them close. Foster the bond and attachment with your children by ensuring healthy boundaries between them and their peers. It is crucial that adults (rather than peers) become the compass. Be intentional about your weekly schedule and routines. You may want to put healthy limitations on playdates and computer/screen time.
Incorporate “we-time” in your daily routine in order to connect with your child. This can be at the dinner table, after school, or a half-hour before bedtime. Make it a consistent habit and a no-tech zone (no phones, television or Internet allowed)! What was the best thing that happened that day for each person? What was the worst? This activity helps create predictable space and time for your child to depend on and trust you (versus a peer or negative outlet) to help him to process the day. Allow vulnerability and dependence. Open the door for it.
A time-out can often make a child have feelings of shame and rejection. Utilizing a time-in is much more effective and healthy for your child to learn and grow. It will preserve your relationship and provide your child with the gentle guidance he needs in a time of frustration.
Are the demands of the teacher, school program, or educational placement not practical? Are your child’s school and extracurricular schedules a bit hectic for his learning style? Is your child adopted or has he gone through a stressful experience? If you have concerns about any of these questions, it may be helpful to set up a team meeting to get everyone on the same page.
Don’t forget to do away with any negative energy or people in your life. Start to surround yourself with those who are in alignment with what you believe in!
When the kids get home from school, be sure they have time to regulate before jumping into homework. Welcome them home with a hug, room to decompress and healthy snack. They may even need to do a physical activity to release some energy.
Additionally, start modeling and working on some healthy coping skills. Help them notice that they are having a “big feeling” and then suggest a healthy way to address it. One of the best coping skills may be a chat on your lap, a relaxing activity, a hug, or a heart to heart. For the older ones, encourage journaling (or other creative outlets), exercise, counting to ten, or an activity they enjoy. For the younger ones, try progressive relaxation, coloring/drawing, or breathing. Do these activities together if you can!
Hint: I’ve had families utilize a “Relax Box” at home and in the car (i.e. a box filled with stress balls, sensory items, a notebook, drawing materials etc.). If in need of regulation, prompt your child to utilize the Relax Box!
What have your biggest back-to-school challenges been? Share in the comments below!
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