Was this past school year too hard?

WAS THIS PAST SCHOOL YEAR TOO HARD… or just a plain ol’ DISASTER for your child?

Some reasons it could have been,and considerations to make over the summer.

By: Brandi Carey, MFT Intern#71187

Peer Conflict, Bullying, and Lacking Self-Confidence

While most schools have a zero tolerance bullying policy, I know that some kids still feel victimized by conflict and/or bullying at school. Being teased or mistreated by “friends” is devastating, and can cause a lifetime of emotional upheaval resulting in significant distress, low self-confidence, and poor school performance. If your child has experienced negative peer relationships at school, take this summer to open up the communication and learn more about their experiences.

Often times, just showing concern about your child’s struggle with peers and engaging in conversation about it is enough to improve your child’s confidence. They may begin talking about their successes and resolving conflict on their own. Unfortunately, if the conflict or bullying has gone on for too long, children develop false beliefs about themselves. They might exhibit or show signs of more severe behaviors such as self-harm or substance abuse and they may feel withdrawn, anxious, and agitated. Children need to feel supported and showing your concern can make a big difference.

When it feels like your support at home may not be enough, getting counseling may be the next step. Learning to express thoughts and feelings, identifying faulty thinking and coping skills, increasing trust and reviving a lost self-confidence are just a few of the many benefits to realize. Within just a short amount of time, many children respond to therapy and begin implementing skills and new thinking patterns. They will become equipped for the challenges at school with a new perspective (not to mention how it could impact their life long after school is over). What a better time than summer break to get this straightened out?

Lack of Focus, Motivation, and Communication

Gone are the days of limited school choices! We are lucky to have a plethora of schooling options for our kids because it allows parents to make decisions that suit their family need, child’s personality, and academic goals. However, even the best school environment isn’t enough if your child lacks focus, motivation, or effective communication tools. Schools are eager to help a student succeed and will go great lengths to be sure parents are a part of the plan if you show interest. Often times, improvements in motivation, focus, and communication can result with a few changes. A new seating placement, behavior plan, reward system, or routine could be enough to improve your child’s experience.

If you’ve tried all the above and are still not seeing the results you were hoping for, it might be a good idea to have a counselor assess your child’s mental and emotional status. A therapist may be able to help identify if the uncooperative behavior can be further explained. For example, the behaviors could be caused by a child’s adjustment to family stress, a recent change in schools, or some other overwhelming situation. Maybe your child has a difficult time going from one subject to another or moving from one setting to another – we call this transitioning – and helping your child transition at home will help their transitioning at school. An attention deficit may be at issue if your child is anxious, frequently interrupting organized activities, acting impulsively, or even tuning out altogether. At a minimum, seeking therapy is an opportunity to learn more. We encourage you to consider all of it, and let us help you sift through the possibilities to come up with a plan to address the issues.

Absences and Tardiness

Certainly, a sick day or a late morning on occasionally is not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about frequent absences that have caused the school district to send you a nice letter informing of their attendance policy, or a teacher showing concern at conference time, or even the shameful feeling you might get when running your kid to the office late for the 5th time in a month. Does any of this sound familiar – even a little?

The problem here can be very complex or rather simple to resolve. Implementing a night-time routine would be the first level of attack in order to rule out other more serious obstacles like blatant opposition, refusal to cooperate, depression, or some medical condition that could require further assessment. In any event, routine is a good place to start.

Night-time Routines

For many families, weeknights are so busy and chaotic! Between sports and extra activities, obligations and work schedules, (and possibly the favorite TV program that ends at 10:00p.m. on Wednesdays), little energy and time is left for dinner, homework, and a plan for bed time. Having a strong school-night routine tends to set both you and your child up for success in the morning, and so it is that a consistent bed-time based on the child’s age is very important. It’s no secret that we need sleep, but did you know that elementary aged kids require 10-11 hours of sleep each night? Adolescents need at least 8 or 9 hours, too! Considering that school starts at roughly 8:00 a.m. (and allowing time to wake up and get to school) I calculate a bed time no later than 9:00 p.m.! A little planning is needed, but I’m sure with some foresight, organization, and intent, a good bedtime routine that works for your family can become a reality!

Certainly, a routine may not be easily implemented for a number of reasons; maybe difficult blended family dynamics, scheduling conflicts, or other stressors are standing in the way. Counseling can help shift family dynamics and clarify priorities by offering a solution focused approach to many difficult situations. Please take the opportunity to get the help you need; counseling can make the difference for your family.

We know how you feel, Mom and Dad; we at Kristen Ewers Family Counseling Center are here to help. Call us today to figure out an affordable counseling plan for your loved ones. They are worth it.