Back to School Anxieties & Drama
Having lived in Southern California for over 45 years, it’s always startling that school starts at the hottest time of the year. Beaches are full, vacations are fresh on everyone’s mind. It’s a time of, camps, lazy days, sky-rocketing heat, and that primal need to be outside in the sun, which is enough to drive your teenage son or daughter wild when they’re expected to sit in a classroom for the next nine months. The rising temperatures are matched by growing back-to-school emotions and anxieties.
When I think about it, there are a lot of unintentional dramatic situations that surround the start of school – from the basics of wondering what to wear, worrying about getting into this club or that and fighting to conceal that budding pimple. Then there are the anxieties of a parent wondering if her son/daughter will make the team or will get a good teacher to help with math. These kinds of situations potentially create ‘SCREAMAGERS.
4 Tips for Parents
Here are a few parental tips to deal with potential Back to School Blues:
- Have a plan. PBS recently wrote in an article titled “Back-to-School Tips for Parents” that suggests one ease back into the school lifestyle by writing out your routines (lunches, clothes, backpacks, after school activities, etc.) in a planner and practicing the steps a few days before to avoid the first day “mad dash.” Then as the school year goes on, keep to a daily agreed upon schedule. This will keep your family on course.
- Stock up on the right tools for school. School supplies are essential, as well as organizers, bins and boxes for around the house so your students are as organized at school as they are at home.
- Open up communication with your student. Take their emotional temperature. Talk about sensitive topics. Sex, Drugs, E-Cigarettes, Smoking, Dating, Bullying, Etc. There is always a fine line between letting them spread their wings and knowing that you are there. Normalize struggle and reassure them that it is a part of growing up. Set uninterrupted time aside to chat.
- Open up communication with your student’s teachers. Make it a priority to attend parent-teacher conferences and orientations and follow up with in-person chats or emails. When appropriate check in with the teachers and ask how your student interacts in the classroom. This will help gauge your student’s emotional temperature so that you can make adjustments, have open conversations, and keep the pressures from building.
What Is a Screenager?
In addition to keeping the drama meter levels down, a smart way to kick off the new school year is with a healthy perspective on digital devices and the ways you and your family use them. Just as you don’t want the drama of a ‘screamager’, you don’t want your child to turn into a zombie ‘SCEENAGER’ with excessive screen use. According to the latest research findings, media use of 8-18 year-olds is now more than 7.5 hours per day. A Pew Research study from April 2015 found a quarter of teenagers are online almost constantly. In addition, among 12-17 year-olds, texting has become the primary means of communication, outpacing human contact.
It wasn’t long ago that the same was said about television. Our eyeballs have simply turned to different screens. With a glut of technology, it’s important for parents to set boundaries so students are focused on school work. Health experts suggest starting at an early age. Ideas include having digital-free family meals. Together you can create a gadget-free zone in your homes, and dinners that are digitally free limit checking your email to a suitable amount, and prioritizing your online presence. For more on ‘SCEENAGERS ’ and how to strike a healthy balance with technology, check out this video:
If you are interested in hosting a screening of Screenagers and want to learn more about ways you can prepare for back-to-school or a range of other family and school topics – including digital addiction and more – contact me to schedule a presentation.
Additional Back to School Resources
Great tips from PBS’ parents news desk
Essential back-to-school tips from Spark
Psychology Today’s tips for teens going back to school
How to Raise An Adult by Julie Lythcott-Haims on Amazon