Children and the New School Year: When Do They Need Extra Support?


Getting Used to the “New Flow” of the New School Year

As parents we are both relieved that the long summer is over, but are also holding our breath these first few weeks as our children start the new school year. “How will they do with the mounting pressure?” we ask ourselves and watch carefully with bated breath. We’re all in the same boat, hoping for the best, that our precious kids will make new friends, like their teachers, and keep up with their school work. Beyond that, will they manage the new busy schedule, and be able to get into a routine where they are motivated to work hard.

Markers For How They’re Doing

We’re watching for signs that our children will adjust to the new school year in a healthy way. We understand that the first week might be challenging, even for those children who have been looking forward to school and generally cope well. We still expect to see more tears, irritable attitudes, fatigue and complaints during those first few days, as the schedule has changed significantly from summer time. “Mom, do we have to go to school again today?” or “Mom is it going to be such a long school day again?” shouldn’t surprise us. Maybe a child who ran into her classroom on the first day, and then literally freezes in front of the class room door on only day two. Or the boy who develops a slight tick, wrinkling up his eyes in a frown when he doesn’t know what he’s doing, or starting to pick at his lips.

Patience with the Growing Pains

Anytime we stretch and grow there are growing pains, much of which we are seeing in these first few weeks. Behavior that is new and doesn’t seem to make sense warrant a lot more attention, structure at home, hugs and cuddles. Patience and understanding from us will go a long way.

-Expect some different behavior

-Be patient and offer extra support

-Make things as predictable as possible

-Be available to listen and to spend one on one time

Watching for Symptoms

We try to expect these changes, take a deep breath and not attribute too much meaning or anxiety to what we’re seeing. “It’s only the first week” we tell ourselves. It’s when the behavior becomes a pattern that doesn’t change, that we start to feel alarmed.

-Mood: Irritability or Moodiness

-Withdrawing: Lack of Interest in Activities that usually bring joy

-Anger: Frequent Melt Downs with No Apparent Cause

-Physical symptoms: Trips to the Nurses Office, Aches and Pains

-Anxiety: Struggling to Sleep at Night and Being Afraid of Going to Activities

-Bullying Siblings: Increased Sibling Rivalry

You’ve been patient and the changes in your child are now starting to cause stress in the family. It’s harder to understand where the behavior is coming from, the melt downs are harder to endure. You’re starting to worry and it’s important to trust your instincts.

We suggest calling in a family therapist to get input. Bring your child in for an assessment, and get some additional ways to support your child to make the necessary transitions they need to.

Give yourself and your family the ability to breathe again.