COPE CopeLine Supervisor

August 2019

Your Wellness & Work-Life Newsletter

It's Back-to-School Time


The new school year typically brings feelings of anticipation and apprehension, for children and parents alike. Aside from the practical aspects like buying back-to-school supplies and clothes and, in some cases, paying tuition, many parents worry about their children going to a new school, facing a rigorous academic year or dealing with difficult social situations. Often the fear of the unknown---which can range from the dread of math class to trepidation over the lunchroom mystery meat---creates stress on families in the weeks leading up to the start of school.

It's a time when parents may need to be extra vigilant. "While trying to manage work and the household, parents can sometimes overlook their children's feelings of nervousness or anxiety as school begins," says Dr. Lynn Bufka of the American Psychological Association. "Working with your children to build resilience and manage their emotions can be beneficial for the psychological health of the whole family."

Back-to-School Tips

Practice the First Day of School Routine: Families need time to adjust to school schedules after summer. Start getting your child back in the habit of going to bed, rising and eating meals at set times. Organize things at home---backpack, binder, lunchbox or cafeteria money---to make the first week go smoothly. Have healthy, kid-friendly lunches that will energize your child throughout the day. If it's a new school, consider walking through the building and visiting your child's locker and classroom to ease anxiety about the unknown.

Celebrate the Event: In many cultures, the first day of school is cause for celebration. In Germany, for example, children receive a Zuckertuete, an oversized cardboard cone, decorated and filled with chocolates, candies, school supplies, and other various goodies and surprises. Consider a special trip to the store for a new back-pack or lunch box. Alternatively, plan a special Back-to-School dinner.

Talk it Through: Acknowledge the anticipation and anxiety. Let your children know that you are aware of what they're going through and that you will be there to help them through the process. The APA says nerves are normal and advises parents to emphasize that not everything that is different is necessarily bad. Encourage children to face their apprehensions rather than avoiding them.

Homework Rules: Some of the biggest challenges come once school starts. Establish a non-negotiable, daily homework time and a quiet place for study. Some children do as well on the living-room floor as they do at a desk in the bedroom. And show interest in your child's education. "How was school?" will likely get little more than an "OK." Instead, ask about the day's math lesson or problems on a dreaded test. Know the books being read, the papers being written and the projects being assigned.

The first day of school represents a fresh start. It offers an opportunity for new experiences, new relationships, new knowledge, and new skills for all of us, young and old. Embrace the challenge and the rewards will come.

Recent Posts on COPE's Facebook Page

• Georgetown University is looking for individuals with anxiety disorders for a study of different treatment options. Treatment is provided at no cost. Compensation for your participation. For information, call us at 202-687-0616 or checkout the website.

• How Confident Are You? Men tend to overestimate their abilities by some 30% according to a Columbia Business School study. By comparison, women tend to underestimate their abilities and it is holding them back. Many psychologists believe that, on balance, a bit of over-confidence in life is better than a bit of under-confidence because it propels us to try things, to take action and to live a more fulfilled life. Take the Confidence Code Quiz

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