by Michal Berg

Back-To-School Stress

by Michal Berg

It is back to school time, and it’s always interesting to watch: Who has more stress—our children or us, the parents?

Moving from summer to school always brings mixed feelings. We like the structure and routine of school days, but on the other hand, we also feel a sense of freedom during our kids’ summer vacation. We don’t need to be on top of their performance and ensure they do what they need to.

Having our kids in school presents a unique opportunity for us to look inside and reflect on our fears, insecurities, and the ability to separate our agenda from theirs. We can also find new levels of support and nourishment to give them.

How much does it affect you, and what emotional space do you go to when your child faces a challenge in school? It can be an academic challenge or a social one. For example, how do you feel when your kid doesn’t get the leading role in a class play? When his science project isn’t sophisticated enough? When she didn’t make it to the team? And so on.

Too often, we live our lives through our children. Our emotions, desire, and self-worth are tangled up with them. How often do we push them to improve and do more because of our insecurity?

We can ease and release our children and ourselves from this burden by remembering that each child is an individual, a ‘stand-alone’ human, not an extension or a reflection of us. Honoring their unique interests, strengths, and weaknesses will help us be there for them without adding unnecessary stress.

Here are a few more practical tips that will help your child feel more supported and less stressed in the new school year:

  • Praise your children for making progress, not only for reaching an end goal.
  • Listen to your children when they tell you about something that’s bothering them in school; usually, there is something for you to look into.
  • Give your kids space to figure things out independently; you can suggest tools but don’t fix everything for them.
  • Make them feel that you understand how being in school can sometimes be stressful and challenging.
  • Tell them you love them before they go to sleep and before they go to school.

Our children will do better when they feel heard, loved, and know that we are on the same team as them!