Coping With Back-to-School Blues

[Originally posted at Just the Facts, Baby]

The first week of school is usually not too bad – kids are excited about school starting and parents are renewed and ready to make sure everything goes smoothly. We often impress ourselves with a great first week, congratulating ourselves on a job well done. But for most families, it’s during the second week that things start to deteriorate: the kids don’t want to wake up, they doddle, get distracted and fight.

Then, the evening homework battles begin and reality sets in – summer really is over. I call this delayed reaction the “fall crash” and it is when we most often see our children’s reactions to summer ending and a new school year beginning.

For some, this delayed reaction can come as late as October when the novelty of a new school year has worn off and reality finally sets in. Transitions are not easy for some of us and can be really tough for some kids. The good news is that most of us adjust well after a few weeks and we eventually get into the rhythm of our busy lives. Here are some ways to ease that transition.

1. Mark summer’s end with a celebration of some kind. Have a special dinner, a slide show of pictures from the summer. Share memories and stories to mark the end of summer and toast the new school year.

2. Label any feelings or behaviors for your children you think may be related to summer ending. Talk about how transitions can be hard and reassure kids that it’s normal to have mixed feelings like excitement and sadness.

3. Don’t cheerlead: fight the urge to talk kids out of sad feelings. Let them express how they feel by listening and empathizing, there will be time for encouragement later in the conversation.

4. Expect a delayed reaction for some later in the month and help everyone understand what may be happening.

5. Be aware of your own feelings of sadness or stress as summer ends. Even if you are looking forward to the kids getting back to school, transitions can be hard on us too.

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