How to Cope with Back to School Stress - By Debbie Mandel
The school year presents an opportunity for a fresh start, getting together
with old and new friends, new accomplishments and exciting activities - a measure
of growth. A new vibration can be felt in the air.
Instead, in many households anxiety, stress and even sadness reign. Parents need
to bribe their children with fancy knap sacks, jazzy school folders and lunch boxes,
not to mention the back-to-school clothes to take the sting out of returning to
The problem with school, any level from pre-school to college, is labeling. Children
wear their scarlet letter grades as badges of honor or shame. Early in their education
children are labeled B-Student, C ? Student, ADD, AD/HD, LD, OCD, Obese, etc. Once
a child is labeled, expectations seem to fall in line with that label. Ironically
in spite of the labels parents harbor unrealistic expectations and become disappointed.
The children absorb that disappointment and live down to the lesser image. They
begin to feel inexplicably unhappy and irritable eroded by teachers and parents.
Children soon experience stomachaches, headaches, insomnia and more frequent colds.
The start of a new school year provides an opportunity for a new spiritual beginning,
a change in perception. At this very moment parents need to create a home environment
conducive to empowerment and the philosophy of the little engine that could. Parents
need to choose to see their children in a positive light. Affirm them even in thoughts
because children are mind readers. We need to stop anticipating their worst, and
visualize their best. They will respond by being happier, healthier and the best
that they can be - now. So, if your child does not get the lead in the play, don?t
look at him or her with anxious eyes. Instead listen to what your child is really
saying: ?Mom, I was chosen to clap and cheer in the audience.?
Here are some suggestions to take the stress out of school as you help your children
build up self-esteem:
- Start now to get those late summer bedtimes in line with early school mornings.
Children need to get their sleep. Begin to taper down about a half hour each
day to reach a reasonable bedtime. Stick to it. The key to good sleep is regularity.
Establish a bedtime ritual such as: milk and crackers, a story, a bath, or a
discussion of the day?s events. Every child is different. Some children relax
after a bath while others are stimulated.
- Prepare tomorrow?s clothes the evening before. This time saver will reduce
- Set up an in-basket and an out-basket similar to those in an office. Your
children will place their homework assignment sheets in the in-basket when they
come home and then place completed assignments in the out- basket later in the
evening. When they leave in the morning, they just have to pick up their work
from the basket and they are good to go.
- Make sure your children eat a healthy, balanced breakfast ? even if it is
on the run. Cut out sugars and white processed foods. Sugary sodas are on the
forbidden list. Children who eat a wholesome breakfast control their weight
better and learn better at school.
- Make sure your child does some exerci se daily even for 15-20 minutes. The
benefits include: shedding stress, feeling happier and having more focus for
- Don?t over-schedule your children with extracurricular, after school activities.
This stresses you out as you rush to drive them from activity to activity and
they feel overwhelmed without any quiet, free time.
- Post affirmations around the house for your children to see. Even better:
select those quotes together and encourage your children to decorate them.
- Try to respect your children and avoid confrontation. Communicate calmly
and specifically what you would like them to do. Because if you put them on
the defensive with the blame game, they will shut down and ultimately feel unhappy
about disappointing you.
- If there are special learning problems or social issues, visit the school
to speak to teachers, guidance counselors and the principal. Be your child?s
advocate and let him or her know that you are. Be involved and visit periodically.
The school and parents should not be engaged in a tug of war. You are all on
the same side.
- If you cannot greet your kids when they come home from school because you
are at work, remember to call them. Children love to talk on the phone and you
can connect with them. Have healthy, attractive looking snacks like colorful
cut-up fruit available in the fridge, or layer a sundae glass with low fat yogurt
and berries. Top it with a cherry. No child will cut up a cantaloupe.
- Eat dinner with your children to bond with them and share each other?s day.
- See your life as a sit-com and laugh.
Debbie Mandel, MA is the author
of Turn On Your Inner Light: Fitness for Body, Mind and Soul, a stress-reduction
specialist, motivational speaker, a personal trainer and mind/body lecturer. She
is the host of the weekly Turn On Your Inner Light Show on WHLI 1100AM in New York
City , produces a weekly wellness newsletter, and has been featured on radio/ TV
and print media. To learn more visit:
Developing a Holiday Visitation Schedule That Works! - By Holly Pedersen,
Developing a Holiday Visitation Schedule?
In our experience working with divorced and separated parents here at Talk Works,
one of the biggest challenges they face is sharing custody during the holidays.
Understandably, both parents want to spend holidays with their children ? while
sharing this time with an ex-spouse or partner may feel impossibly painful, particularly
if there are lingering feelings of anger or sadness about the end of the marriage
or relationship. Unfortunately, anger over the divorce or separation can prevent
parents from being able to successfully work together in the best interest of their
children, including being able to establish a workable visitation schedule that
allows the children to spend time with both parents during the holidays.
In order to avoid conflict and stress about the visitation plan during the holidays,
we suggest trying the following:
1. Separate your feelings about the divorce or separation from the visitation
You may be feeling angry at your ex for what happened during or at the end of
the relationship. However, it is EXTREMELY important that you not attempt to punish
him or her by withholding time with the children. Regardless of how you feel about
your ex, your children need and deserve to have both parents in their lives.
2. Continually ask yourself: Are these the kinds of memories I want to create
for my children? This question will enable you to stay focused on what is most important:
your children and their well-being. Too often in our work, we have heard adults
from divorced homes describe their own childhood holiday memories as being painful
and stressful due to their parents? ongoing conflicts and fighting about the custody
and visitation issues. Research indicates that what is most damaging about divorce
and separation to children is this ongoing parental conflict. If you find yourself
continually fighting with your ex ? especially if this is happening within earshot
of your children! ? STOP and ask yourself if these are the kinds of memories you
want to create for your children. Remind yourself that these experiences will shape
their views of childhood and will impact their own relationships in adulthood. It
is in your power to raise children who will become happy and healthy adults!
3. Treat your ex like a business colleague whose business you want.
You don?t have to love or even like your ex-spouse or partner. However, you do
have to continue to ?co-parent? with him or her, which means finding a way to have
at least minimal interaction regarding your children. If interaction with your ex
is strained or emotionally volatile, it is time to re-define your connection and
establish a new way of communicating that takes the emotional element out of the
exchanges. Experiment with treating your ex as a business colleague whose business
you want. Remember that you don?t need to like your business colleagues; instead,
you need to treat them with enough respect that an effective working relationship
is established. Other ways to take the emotional element out of exchanges include
communicating by telephone or email rather than in person, and establishing ground
rules for exchanges, such as limiting all communication to matters regarding the
children (i.e. rather than rehashing relationship, divorce or break-up issues).
4. Compromise! (For the sake of your children!)
Of course, we can?t talk about establishing a shared holiday visitation plan
without mentioning compromise! Yes, it is obvious that compromising is necessary,
but parents who are in the midst of an all-out battle over sharing holiday time
can easily forget this. Compromise doesn?t mean sacrificing your time with your
children during the holidays; instead, it means you get creative about how to share
holiday time. For some holidays, it may make the most sense to alternate every other
year ? for example one of you spends Thanksgiving with the kids in ?even? years
(2004, 2006, etc) and the other one spends Thanksgiving with the kids in ?odd? years
(2003, 2005, etc). For other holidays, it may be possible to ?split? or share the
time each year. For example, for Christmas perhaps you will celebrate with the children
on December 24th and your ex will celebrate with the children on December 25th.
Maybe you will want to establish this as the tradition every year, or you may want
to alternate this schedule every other year so that one year you have the children
on December 24th and the next year you have them on December 25th.
Keep in mind that compromising may involve establishing new traditions for your
children. A lot of parents try to continue long-standing holiday traditions after
a divorce or separation, and find that these traditions no longer work if children
are going back and forth between two households. Don?t make the mistake of holding
onto traditions that no longer fit your life-style and current arrangement. This
can cause a great deal of stress and frustration! What matters most is not what,
when and where the tradition is, but rather that there is a fun tradition that makes
holiday time with your family special. This is a great opportunity to put your creativity
to use! You might want to enlist the help of your children in developing these traditions
to make them even more meaningful.
5. Focus on Your Role and Responsibility in Your ?Co-Parenting? Relationship
As you know, you have no control over your ex-partner?s actions. For this reason,
it is a waste of valuable time and energy focusing on what your ex-partner is or
?should? be doing. For instance, rather than focusing on how your ex-partner is
not willing to compromise on a particular holiday, focus your attention on the ways
you can compromise in this area. If your ex-partner refuses to compromise on spending
this Thanksgiving with the children, for instance, be the one to make the compromise.
For example, propose that if he or she has the children for Thanksgiving this year,
then you will have the children on New Year?s Eve this year, and the next year you
will reverse this schedule. If the 50% of the relationship that you are responsible
for is filled with compromise, stress-free communication and positive interactions,
you are bound to see your ex-partner?s 50% of the relationship start to reflect
the same characteristics.
So, rather than focusing on how your ex-partner?s past actions mean he or she
doesn?t deserve to see the kids, focus your attention on how you can help your children
adjust to the divorce or separation and what you can do to meet their emotional
needs during this challenging transition. Take responsibility for what you can do
to create a working co-parenting relationship with your ex-partner. After all, this
is the only thing you have control over!
If the above suggestions are still not enabling you and your ex-partner to successfully
co-parent and share time with your children, we recommend you seek the assistance
of a Marriage and Family Therapist, Mediator, or other skilled professional experienced
in assisting parents with communication and custody conflicts. The professionals
at Talk Works are specifically trained and experienced in helping parents learn
new communication and conflict resolution skills. In addition, our knowledgeable
staff can provide you with referrals to attorneys and child custody mediators who
will assist you in establishing a workable holiday visitation schedule.
All of us at Talk Works wish you happy holidays and successful co-parenting!
Dr. Holly Pedersen, Ph.D. is the
President and co-founder of Talk Works, Inc. a conflict-resolution and communication
training company based in Beverly Hills, California. A successful author, lecturer
and entrepreneur, Dr. Pedersen is dedicated to helping individuals, couples and
business organizations learn new communication skills to minimize stress and maximize
Children articles index
- Brains on Fire: The Multimodality of Gifted Thinkers - By Brock Eide
- laying Baby Computer Games ? The New Parent-Child Tradition? - By Emma
- Book Excerpt: Einstein Never Used Flash Cards - By Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, Ph
- Putting Fun Into Parenting - By David Stoepker, Psy.D., & Erin Brown Con
- Preparing Your Child for a High-Tech Future - By Sue Sato
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder - Predominantly Inattentive
- Abandonment - By Sonya Green
- Explaining Suicide to Children - by Tracy Pierson
- Our Children`s Needs - by Robert Elias Najemy
- How to Develop Self-Esteem in Children - By J. Bailey Molineux, Ph.D.
- Helping Children Overcome Stress and Fear - By Debbie Milam
- Do you Shout at YOUR children? - By James Middleton
- Book Excerpt: Helping Children with Autism Learn - By Bryna Siegel,
- SPEED SPELLING: Another way to use speed reading skills for "schoolwork&q
- Children and Stress - By Laura Silva Quesada
- Boundaries- Why Are They Needed? - by Derek Randel & Gail Randel M.D.
- Juggling Home
- Explaining World tragedy to Children - By Chick Moorman and Thomas Ha
- Children and Pessimism - By Carol Tuttle
- Loving Yourself, Loving Your Children - By Margaret Paul, Ph.D.
- Social Manners for Children - By Susan Dunn, The EQ Coach
- The Sexual Abuse of Children - By J. Bailey Molineux
- A Few Simple Truths About ADHD and Stimulant Drugs - By Steve Edelman1,
- DYSLEXICS and A.D.D. KIDS BECOME GIFTED SPEED READERS - by George Stanc
- Using Feng Shui for Better Behaved Children - By Kathryn Weber
- Book Excerpt: Helping Children with Autism Learn - By Bryna Siegel,
- Five Keys to Raising Nonviolent Children - By Tammy Cox, LMSW
- The Best Way to Reduce Stress: Start Young - By Zach Brull
- Your Child?s Self-Esteem is in The Cards - By Susan Howson
- Calming Tips for Hyperactive Children - By Jeannine Virtue
- What is ADHD? - By Jeannine Virtue
- Talking to Your Children About Sex - By Jan Andersen
- How Our Children Really Learn And Why They Need To Play More And Memo
- HOW DO WE PROTECT OUR CHILDREN FROM PREDATORS? - By Linda J Alexander,
- Teach Children Positive Self-Image Through Fitness - By Lynn Bode
- No Invitation Needed -- Part 3 of 3 Sacred Children Series - By Skye T
- Helping Our Children Feel Good About Themselves - By Dr.Barbara Becker Hol
- Unidentified Stepfamily Zones - Discoveries Made at a Stepfamily Confer
- Divorce and Children: Things To Consider When You`re Staying Married
- Six facts you should know to empower your teaching. - By Emmanuel
- Are You in an Abusive Situation? - by Colin Gabriel Hatcher & Randall
- The Divorce Revolution Has Failed - By J. Bailey Molineux
- Is Your Child Well-Mannered? - By Mary Jesse
- Jesus` Birthday -- Part 2 of 3 Sacred Children Series - By Skye T
- Empty Nesters: What Should You Do Once the Children Leave? - By Mary Guar
- We should celebrate the diversity of children and adults - By Robyn M
- How to Cope with Back to School Stress - By Debbie Mandel
- HIS KIDS: BECOMING A W.O.W. STEPMOTHER - by Julie Donner Andersen
- ADD / ADHD Children : Being Your Child`s Best Friend - By Kate Hufst