Back to school. Back to anxiety?
The day after Labour Day and the kids go back to school, but all too quickly the anxiety sets in.
As I looked at all the photos of kids heading off to the first day of school, I am taken back to many years ago when my girls were returning to school after a long summer. Like many parents, I welcomed the return of the routine. It felt good to know that there was a schedule, even though it meant trying to create healthy lunches every day. And as for all the homework…
But with the return to school, can come the return of anxiety – for parent and child. Will the new teachers value and appreciate the uniqueness of your child? Will she be in a class with some of her friends, or separated and have to start over making new friendships? And for some children school is challenging, and not just on an academic level, but socially too.
All too often they can be bullied, made to feel inadequate and an outsider on their own lives. While we don’t want to hover, as parents we need to pay attention, as sometimes we can miss the clues that all is not well on the school front.
I remember grumpy encounters as the days would seem too long at first. And if our kids are programmed into too many extra curricular activities, it can all seem overwhelming – for both the chauffeur and the child herself. I always remember when I worked at the parent-child centre, hearing a child expert point out that children don’t need to learn everything by the age of eight. They have a lifetime to learn. Yet often children are pressured to take this class or that class, for fear that they will fall behind.
This week when talking to a therapist friend over lunch, I asked her what was the major reason people came to see her? Anxiety. And I believe it can start young. Perhaps we need to cut ourselves some slack and not add to the anxiety level of everyone in the family with trying to do too much in one day.
I don’t envy young families today – juggling the pressures of work, raising children and working hard to make ends meet. It is little wonder that the pressure can become too much. It’s also hard to step away from what has become “the norm” but I encourage you to listen to what you gut is telling you, and to do what is right for you and your family.
And maybe it’s not rushing out to fit in yet another activity, but staying home to enjoy dinner and time together.
With the cooler weather as fall approaches, perhaps we need to chill too.