Submitted by Liz McCaffrey, Psy.D., M.Ed., Therapist, MKPlus
“August is the Sunday of the summer,” said children of all ages and their teachers.
In this Back-To-School season middle and high school students are doing their best to mask their August anticipation and anxiety and maybe September dread.
September brings the return to structure, and demanding schedules. These schedules can include Honors or AP classes, sports (tryouts, games and practice), instrument lessons and practice, SAT prep courses, theatre (tryout actors, singers, set design), and religious instruction.
This list is not exhaustive, but it is exhausting to think about the unrealistic expectations put on students.
Take time to think of your student’s schedule.
Write it down, then add the outsized social pressure they face texting with friends, and posting on Snapchat or Instagram.
Don’t forget to add homework time (sometimes hours) and a good night’s sleep.
The following are just some ideas to set up communication and not confrontation, upset and increased stress.
- Remember your students don’t want to fail. If she/he is struggling in any area, attempt (more than once) to open a conversation. This conversation should not include that she/he is not working hard enough or needs to focus more. After discussion a solution may emerge.
- Sometimes caregivers need to schedule a time with their student. It is best to discuss a difficult topic away from the heat of the moment.
- Our students arelearningtime management and organization. They may listen to your suggestions if you offer to sit and problem-solve with them about their schedule.
- Be clear about rules for social media, video games, etc. If limits and expectations are established at the beginning of the school year they will be easier to maintain. Limiting social media is a major source of anxiety for students.
- If your student resists your help, think about who else can provide support (guidance counselor, teacher, tutor). *Let your students know you want to hear what they are thinking about a situation. Whether you agree or disagree with them you gain invaluable understanding of their perspective.