It's that time of year again! Stomache aches, not sleeping well, lack of interest in fun things, lashing out and more. I usually mistake this for allergies, sickness, boredom or overall spoiled kids. But then I remember, its "Back to School" time!! Or as some say, "the Back to School Blues". As much as I get excited about getting back to a regular schedule, I forget about how this whole "back to school phenomenon" makes my children feel. There are no major changes for us this year...same neighborhood, same school, same principal. But every year my kids get anxious, nervous and are just overall unsettled about starting school again.
As parents and adults, much of this anxiety we bring on when we ask these seemingly, harmless questions. Are you excited to go back to school? What friends do you think you will have in your class? Who are you hoping you get for a teacher? Have you done all your back to school shopping? I am also guilty of asking these questions of kiddos in the neighborhood and I hear people asking my kids this frequently. These are things that our children have NO control over, yet we are making them a priority in their mind and they inherently become anxious because they themselves cannot answer these questions on their own. So, they smile and try to be polite but inside you just set off a world of worry for them.
Can you imagine if you just started a new job or new role, how you would feel if your boss asked you these questions? My response would be something like: Excited? uh - no, maybe paranoid. Friends? I don't even know who my Friends are because I've been doing other stuff all summer! Teacher? I heard there's a new teacher and I know nothing about her. Shopping? What do I need? I don't know what I need? And then I would spiral....
What if, instead, we ask questions like: What do you hope to learn this year in school? What are you going to tell your teachers and classmates you did this summer? What did you enjoy most about your summer? Who are you most looking forward to seeing when you go back to school? What extracurricular projects do you want to be involved in this year?
This changes the tone and gives them something to thinking about. Something within their control. Try it and let's see if our children calm down, reflect on what matters to them and look forward to brighter days ahead!