Archive for August, 2010

Naugle Counseling: Tips to Lower Back to School Stress

You can feel it all around you. The tv commercials play into it and the flyers received in the mail by large chain stores announce it in bold letters. Yes, its back to school time across the country!

With it brings a feeling of saddness that the summer months are now just memories. Whether you have school aged children, college age children, work in a school or college, or are a student yourself there is a change in the air. For many the start of the school year increases stress and anxiety levels within the household. 

The school year presents an opportunity for a fresh start, getting together with old and new friends, new accomplishments and exciting activities. Its an opportunity for a new beginning, a change in perspective. It can also be a measurement for growth.

Where I live in Pennsylvania, we have a definite change in the seasons. Each season brings with it new vibrations. In the fall the days become shorter and the air becomes “crisp”, the leaves change colors, and fall mums are in full bloom. Routines are changed and adjusted. There are new opportunities to watch fall sports. I live in a college town so the start of the University’s football season is always exciting as well as the high school sports season.

Here are some tips to help you and your child ease into the new school year:

  • Start now to readjust bedtimes. Children need to get their sleep. The easiest way to adjust bedtime schedules is to have the children go to bed a 1/2 hour earlier each evening until the desired bedtime is reached. Studies have shown that all children need at least 8 hours or more of sleep to perform at their best.
  • Decide on clothing the night before. This time saver helps reduce morning stress.
  • Establish a set time each day to do homework. This should be a quiet time in the household without the distractions of a tv, ipod, or cell phone. I always preferred this time to be 6:30 to 7:30 for my own children.
  • Make sure your child eats a healthy breakfast. Children who eat a healthy breakfast control their weight better and perform better at school. Breakfast does not have to be labor intensive, healthy wholegrain cereals are good options as well as “instant breakfast” drinks for older children. My daughter often had macroni and cheese for breakfast along with milk or apple juice. It was something that she enjoyed eating and was healthy compared to some sugary breakfast cereals.
  • Prepare packed lunches the night before. There is enough going on in the mornings without having to pack lunches for everyone too.
  • Don’t over-schedule your children with extracurricular, or after school activities. This stresses you out as much as them driving them from place to place and they start to feel overwhelmed trying to fit everything into their day. One rule of thumb is to allow each child one activity each season. This should allow for free time to help the child unwind and destress.
  • Try to eat at least 3 dinners a week together as a family. This allows each child a chance to talk about their day and feel a part of the family. Research has shown that bonding over the dinner table is an excellent opportunity for open discussions.
  • Remember live well, love much, and laugh often. Your kids are only young once.

Lory Naugle, MS, NCC, DCC is in private practice and provides counseling to children through adults in her office in Shippensburg, PA or by Distance Means such as Skype, secure email, and by phone. Please contact her if you or your child are experiencing difficulties in life.

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