We want to raise children who are resilient and can adapt well in the complex and sometimes challenging world we live in, but they don’t become this way automatically. There are four basic steps parents can focus on to help their kids cope effectively with difficult situations they will encounter whether in school or as they navigate social interactions with peers.
When I was asked to write a blog about the difficult transition into high school and I thought, “Interesting topic, but is it really necessary to discuss?” Then I had a 14 year old patient this week whose main concern was this: “How am I going to survive high school?” A mix of pop culture and passed down stories from well-meaning family members had terrified this soon-to-be 9th grader. She had heard that the older high school boys are preying on the “fresh meat” and that fights are breaking out in the halls on a daily basis. She also heard about the prevalence of weapons in school and wondered how she can protect herself. Should she carry pepper spray in her backpack? (This was her actual question to me and my heart broke).
It seems like all school year long kids can’t wait for summer break. And just as soon as the family really starts to enjoy it, it’s August and time to start making the transition back.
Aside from the disappointment of vacation coming to an end, the start of school can be a source of anxiety for many kids as they worry about the unpredictable – who will be in their class, who will they have for teachers, if the work will be too hard for them. And this is especially true for kids who may be moving to new schools with the transition from kindergarten to first grade, elementary to middle school, or middle to high school. But there are ways parents can help.
How can having no school, going to bed when they want, and sleeping in be causing kids anxiety? It may seem counter intuitive, but it’s true. And if your kids are showing signs of being restless, irritable and maybe even reluctant to go do things , chances are they may be feeling anxious. Kids need a framework for their day. If there’s ambiguity – too much unstructured time or unpredictability – there’s increased anxiety.
Now that the warmer weather is finally here, chances are there will be a few thunderstorms rolling our way. While some kids may enjoy the spectacle of the storms, for others it can be a very frightening experience.
Thunderstorms tap into nearly all of our sensory systems – sight, smell, sound, even touch. From the bright flash of lightning, loud clap of thunder, pounding rain, and gusts of wind, to the flashing lights and blaring sirens – it can be overwhelming for kids. What’s more, seeing your parents anxious and nervous about bad weather can evoke fear in many kids even more than fear of the storm itself, so it’s important to remain calm to help your child feel safe and protected.