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August 11, 2012

Back to School Blues

Image: Flickr/KooKoo Bear Kids

Image: Flickr/KooKoo Bear Kids

In honor of the most wonderful time of the year – back to school, we are beginning a three week series entitled “Back to School Blues.”  In this series, Kelvin Teamer, ScreamFree Institute Fellow, teams up with one of our ScreamFree Certified Leaders, Jessica McKeown to help parents learn how to navigate their way through the minefield of emotions that typically come with this annual rite of passage.  Jessica and her husband live in Fairbanks, Alaska where she works as a Parent Educator.

Here we go folks, another school year. Though we are excited to add a little structure to our kid’s lives, ironically we may be dreading its arrival. The reason being is that many of us have enjoyed a relaxing, peace-filled, unstructured summer with our offspring and the thought of another nine months of sleep-deprived, over-scheduled, homework-driven conflict with our kids doesn’t exactly make us feel warm and fuzzy.
Have you noticed that this time of year is often filled with conflict and arguments? As you already know, conflict happens when two different forces come up against one another. Every August and September these forces seem to engage in battles of Olympic proportions.  Parent versus child, with each looking to win the gold medal. The big question for parents, however is, “How are you contributing to the pattern of conflict?  It is entirely possible that we can learn to enjoy our kid’s educational experience if we learn to focus on our part of the problem. If we refrained from knee-jerk responses when speaking with our kids, could we defuse an argument?  Yes.  By changing one reaction, a whole argument can be averted.  For us, it all starts with a pause while in the midst of a throw down.
These “throw downs” between us and our children seem to occur more often during the school year. Why is that? It’s because this is the time of year where our anxiety seems to skyrocket. We are concerned about our kids adjusting to school, new teachers and new expectations. We become overly focused on how they are going to handle all of that. Will they succeed or crumble underneath all the pressure?
Did you notice that the previous paragraph was all about your kids? See, that’s where the real problem comes into play. Whenever we become focused on those forces that we can’t control; our kids, anxiety spikes and eventually…you guessed it, we lose it. It seems that we do this every year. Are we tired of that yet?
The real key is to begin paying attention to our own functioning in the midst of all that is going on around us. So as you load up that cart at Target or Wal-Mart with paper, folders, pencils and backpacks and send them out of the door or on the bus, get in touch with the natural anxiety that flows from such a process. Decide on the type of parent you want to be this school year. Cast your gaze there rather than on the type of student you want them to be.

So, what type of parent do you want to be this year?  Let us know.


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