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September 5, 2012

Back to School Blues-Part 3

Image: Flickr/amanda tipton

Image: Flickr/amanda tipton

Back to School Blues-Part 3

In honor of the most wonderful time of the year – back to school, we are concluding our 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.
“I have the power!” This was a statement made by the 1980s cartoon character, He-Man. If you don’t know He-Man’s story, let me fill you in. He-Man was really a mild-mannered prince from a mythological land called Eternia. Whenever trouble popped up and the world needed a hero, Adam would hold up his sword and transform himself into the super strong He-Man. When he changed his appearance, he would then inform anyone that was in ear-shot about his new found power. Maybe it is time parents become the hero in their households and begin using the power that they already have.
When parents stop picking up gauntlets thrown down by their children and begin focusing on their part of testy situations, they can enjoy power that they have previously given away. Using this power can look a lot like this:
Child:  Dad!  I don’t have my science folder!  I need it!  
Dad:  Sounds like you’re going to need to check the house for where you might have left it.
You could stop arguing over homework:
Child:  Mom!  My report for social studies is due tomorrow, but I didn’t start it yet.  You have to help me research it!
Mom:  If you would have asked for help earlier, I might have been able to brainstorm with you.  Its 10 o’clock and I have to wake up early for work.  I hope you get it done.
Can you imagine what it would be like to avoid these conflicts?  You would have so much time and energy!  You would help your children learn responsibility and consequences.  You would be aware of your part in the conflict and could choose to respond differently, perhaps with calm and authority.  The pattern you had been in before – the one that lead to frustration, could be broken.  Think about it, doing the same thing over and over, while expecting a different outcome, has been described as the definition for insanity.  I don’t know about you, but I’m not ready to lose my marbles over a squabble with my child.  
One of the most important things to remember as a parent is that you are in charge of your own self and your reactions.  Sometimes we may think our reactions are justified because our child’s behavior warranted such outbursts from us.  The fact of the matter is, no one can make us do anything.  We are in charge of how we participate in conflict.  It’s time for a positive change.  Besides, who has the energy or desire to intentionally allow himself or herself to go insane?  I would venture to say none of us do.
Instead of trying to convince yourself that the start to this school year will be conflict free, convince yourself, or give yourself permission, to change your patterns.  Your part in the conflicts that can surround school preparations can be minimized this year if you allow yourself time to pause.  Keep emotional reactivity at bay by responding to your child, not reacting.  
 
 

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