You are looking at the calendar and you realize you’re in the last leg of summer and the new school year is nearly here. Where did the time go? This revelation most likely results in a variety of emotions, for both children and parents alike. Excitement. Dread. Sadness. Remorse. Anxiety. This plethora of emotions is a completely normal reaction. But how do you cope and prepare for the upcoming school year?
Express your feelings. And, encourage your child to do the same. When we express our feelings, we are empowered. We are able to identify what is bothering us, and take action on those feelings. It also allows us to be truthful, and more accurately perceived.
Address your feelings. Some of the most common emotions for back to school time are excitement, fear, sadness, remorse, anger, and anxiety. It can be valuable to address each of these feelings to help you both cope with the emotions, as well as, prepare for the school year.
Excitement. Recognize the excitement your child is having. Maybe they are excited to see their friends, or for you as a parent, maybe you are looking forward to the routine that school brings. Talk about this excitement and share in it with your child.
Sadness. Let’s face it. For many of us, summer can be a lot of fun. Summer brings the sun, and opportunities to be outside, or swimming. Worries often seem less in the summer, and parents and children often really revel in summer relaxation. Again, talk about the sadness. Think of ways to carry the things you like doing during the summer into the school year. For example, if you really like to be outside, how can you incorporate that into the school year?
Remorse. The end of summer often brings a list of could haves, would haves, and should haves. All the things we intended to do but didn’t accomplish. Consider ways to incorporate these items into your regular routine. Are these items that must be completed in the school year?
Anger. Consider the source of your anger. Is it related to remorse? Or sadness?
Anxiety. The change in routine to the school year can be very anxiety-producing for both children and adults. Who will my teacher be? Will any of my friends be in my class? Will I hear from the principal this school year? What school supplies are needed? The list goes on and on. Take time to answer these questions independently or with your child, as appropriate. Brainstorm resolutions to the uncertainly. For example, will my friends be in my class? What would happen if they weren’t? What could we do to continue to see old friends? And what can we do to make new ones?
The emotions related to the end of the summer can be plentiful, and contradictory. They can vary from day to day or minute to minute. Take time to both express and address these emotions in order to cope with and prepare for the beginning of the school year. If the emotions are overwhelming, or inhibit your ability to function in your day-to-day, consider seeking outside help. Mental health professionals are trained to deal with a variety of concerns, and are ready, able, and happy to help!
By: Cori Reed, MA, LPC, LBS - Harrisburg BHRS and School Based Program Manager