Back To School Stress
As school starts the transition can be stressful for families, especially if it involves students. It is normal for parents to worry about shopping for school supplies, adjusting to new routines, and getting health checkups. What is not always at the top of parent’s minds is the stress and anxiety both parents and children can feel during this time, which can impact the emotional and physical well-being of our families. In our office we say…
“The most important school supply is “nerve supply”.
This vital school supply is received when the spine is in correct alignment. Many summer activities for both parents and children can cause spinal misalignments, stress is a contributing factor to misalignments. Chiropractic can help! These are both good reason to see us before school starts.
While children may feel excitement to see friends again or learn new subjects, going back to school requires a change from unstructured summer days to a more regimented routine. Suddenly, children need to make sure they are on time to catch school buses, remember to pack their lunches, and complete homework assignments. Other factors can include stress related to social dynamics at school, like fitting in, bullying, and dealing with peer pressure.
Although any transition can be difficult, there are ways to address these causes and ensure your family has a smooth start to the new school year.
What are the common causes?
The common causes of stress can differ based on the age of your children. Below are some of the themes depending on your child’s age:
Preschool and elementary school age: When your children are young, they may feel separation anxiety from you when they go to school. Some children may also deal with stress around adapting to new teachers and classmates.
Primary and middle school age: During this time, many children may find it difficult to adjust to a new school and establish their own identity. Some of the biggest concerns may involve making new friends, fitting in, or trying to become more independent.
High school and college age: Social situations like bullying, pressure to fit in, and appearance, can be a source of stress for teens. In addition, as they start thinking about the next steps after high school, they can deal with anxiety related to college applications and getting into a college of their choice. For students that are already in college, finances may be a source of stress as tuition bills start to arrive.
How do the causes of stress differ from parent to child?
The main difference between the stress that you may feel versus what your child experiences can be described as “responsibility” versus “expectation.”
Parents face stress related to “responsibility” because it is your role to take care of your children and keeping them safe. For example, they may push their children to participate in extracurricular or after school activities which can cause additional stress. Parents can also feel responsible if children are not doing as well as they should be academically.
For children, their stress is related to “expectations.” Their concerns are focused on trying to fit in with their peers, establishing their identity and independence, and finding balance in what is expected of them by their parents, teachers, and peers.
What can parents do to help alleviate stress for themselves and their children?
- First and foremost take the time to talk to your children about what worries them. When your child knows that they can come to you when there is an issue, this relieves a lot of stress and anxiety because they know they have your support.
- Be involved with your child’s school. The older your child is the tougher it is to be involved. Be a presence in their grade, middle and high schools. Your high schooler may balk at this but it’s important to stay connected in this way. When you talk to your child’s teachers, make sure you understand what is needed for a successful start to the school year. This is also an opportunity to be on the same page should a problem arise and know how to best communicate with teachers as you need to.
- Help manage potential anxiety. It’s normal for your child to have first day jitters. One of the ways you can help them overcome their anxiety is to visit their school and meet with the teachers. You can also create a simple goodbye ritual to help reassure your child.
- Talk to them about goals for the year. For younger children, you can prepare them for their first day of school by watching videos together and discussing what they can expect on their first day. For older children, talking through their goals is a great way to help them prepare mentally and look forward to the new school year.
- Give your child reassurance. Should an incident or concern arise, seek to understand and validate your child’s feelings and let them know that you will be there for them.
- Plan and practice your routine. There can be a lot to keep track of when school starts, and practicing the daily routine can help your family make a smooth transition. For older children, a part of their routine could include setting aside time each day for homework so they don’t wait to finish it. If bedtime enforcement has become less strict over the summer, then consider starting that routine the week before school starts.
- Encourage fun activities outside of school. Homework and school obligations are important, but giving your child an opportunity to do what they love will give them an emotional boost. You can also help them from overextending themselves by setting limits and giving them down time.
- Plan quality time together. Taking the time when everybody is back from school and work to spend time together is a great way to reconnect. You can engage in activities like taking a walk, playing a game, or just talking about your day.
- Give yourself a time out once in awhile. As hard as it may be, taking a deep breath to step back and think about the things that you can and can’t change will give you perspective. Though it may be difficult, letting your children learn to become independent is a part of growing up and your role as a parent.
- Don’t be afraid to seek help. When things feel too overwhelming, remember you are not alone. Chiropractic can help! Reaching out to trusted family, friends, or a counselor can help with stress and anxiety that you or your family may feel during this time. Remember a spinal adjustment can help you handle or alleviate day to day stressors..