With back-to-school in full swing, comes so many worries about setting kids up for success that it’s hard to know where to start. Our colleagues at the TODAY Show recently asked viewers what their anxieties are for the new school year. TODAY Show contributor and Parent Toolkit expert Michele Borba shared her tips and advice to address these common parental worries. We’ve compiled some of our favorites here for you.
“I’ve noticed more and more stress in children these days, whether it’s from sports or academics and it’s stress that they’re putting on themselves…so what I’m wondering is how can we help them deal with the stress that they’re putting on themselves?” – Jennifer L.
Stress can stimulate some kids and paralyze others. However, today’s kids are actually the most stressed out on record. Whether it’s high-stakes testing, pressure for scholarships and grades, or the heavy loads of homework, the stress can come from lots of different places. The trick is to find out how your child handles stress and then help him learn to cope. Here are some strategies:
1. Teach your child to regulate stress. Every kid needs a coping strategy. It could be deep breathing, shooting some baskets, listening to soothing music, or even just taking a walk. Find what works for your child and turn it into a routine.
2. Be mindful of “stress inducers.” Kids who are not getting enough sleep at night are prone to being more susceptible to stress. Encourage your child to turn off his electronics 30 minutes before he goes to bed. The best place to charge those phones and tablets is outside the bedroom so he isn’t distracted while trying to fall asleep. And watch out for those energy drinks. The extra caffeine can keep kids up all night.
3. Watch your expectations. Despite our best efforts, parents can actually bring more stress into a child’s life. In fact, kids often say that the biggest cause of stress is their parents. Work on toning down your expectations of your child so that he realizes you love him for who he is and not the grades he gets.
“I have two young boys and I’m curious for this upcoming fall season with football, how do I balance homework and all these after school activities?” – Denise T.
Balancing everything can be tough. The key is to set realistic expectations for your kids and your family. Here are some ways to ensure that everyone’s on the same page:
1. Check your child’s schedule together. Sit down and map out the week together. Plug in time for school, activities, practices, homework and sleep. By mapping it out visually, it will help your family ensure there is time for everything. Ensure that there are some moments for downtime, friend time and maybe even some family time. Overloading doesn’t actually help children and it’s not worth the time and energy.
2. Set a house limit. Some families are making a “one activity” or “one sport” rule. Others are finding ways to cut activities. Eliminating just one thing can help create more balance.
3. Make the decision based on an individual basis and stick to it. Base your child’s schedule on how he handles stress and what he needs to thrive. Each child is different but kids don’t need all of those activities. Select the ones that build them up and add value or enrichment to their natural talent. Also keep the ones that your child absolutely adores. The key question to always ask yourself, “Is the activity worth the money, effort, time and energy?”