When the beginning of the school year rolls around again, it isn’t just children who experience stress, but parents, as well. Unfortunately, the back-to-school stress that you feel when your kids head back to class at the start of September may actually be causing harm to your kids.
What Are Some of the Main Causes of Back-to-School Stress?
All of the pressures of changing schedules and routines, shopping for supplies at the last minute, and trying to make proper arrangements for childcare can make things even harder on your children. This, according to the co-founder and CEO of meQuilibrium – a stress and resilience digital coaching firm – Jan Bruce.
She explained that when it comes to periods of transition in a person’s life, it can be tough on anyone. However, she also pointed out that children will pick up on signals that parents struggling with back-to-school stress are sending about the start of the school year, and it will have an impact on them. Bruce explained that this is an important reason for parents to learn to be able to identify the triggers of their own stress, and to learn to manage them, so that they don’t pass on these same “unhealthy behaviors” on to their children.
Back-to-School Stress of Parents and Their Kids
Research has indicated that kids do take on the stress that their parents are feeling. This is especially true at times – such as the start of the school year – when pressure is exceptionally high due to a transition, explained Bruce.
For instance, a study called “Stress in America” by the American Psychological Association, which was published in 2010, suggested that:
- When parents are feeling stress, almost half of all tweens (47 percent), as well as one third of all adolescents (33 percent) say that they are feeling sad.
- Moreover, when parents are feeling stressed, about a third of all tweens (36 percent) and nearly half of all adolescents (43 percent), said that they felt worried.
- One quarter of tweens (25 percent) and more than a third of all adolescents (38 percent) said that they felt frustrated.
Recent research has indicated that kids who are as young as 8 years old are now experiencing some of the emotional and physical health symptoms that are commonly connected with high stress levels.
These young people are also at an increased risk level for struggling with:
- Falling asleep (48 percent versus 33 percent)
- Eating improper amounts of food (48 percent versus 16 percent)
- Experiencing headaches (43 percent versus 28 percent)
- Becoming angry or involved in fights or arguments (22 percent versus 13 percent)
All of these are symptoms that have been commonly connected with heightened stress levels in youth.
What You Can Do to Relieve Back-to-School Stress
Now that you know just how bad back-to-school stress can be, not only on yourself as a parent, but also on your children of all ages, consider taking some steps to thwart that stress before it can do any real harm.
According to NBC News, there are several things that you can do to reduce or eliminate back-to-school stress.
For example, if you tend to find that you are really frazzled when it comes to picking up necessary school supplies at the last minute, don’t wait until the last minute. There is no reason why you can’t call the school in advance in order to find out what supplies your child will need for the upcoming school year.
If you can simply purchase supplies well before the first day of school, that can help reduce the stress of finding what you need while everyone else is shopping for the same supplies at the same time. And, if you can predict the basic supplies that your child will need, go ahead and purchase them in the month before school starts so that you’ll be set.
Talk to Your Child About Back-to-School Stress
Whether you and your child are suffering from stress during the back-to-school season, or it’s just one of you who’s dealing with this type of stress, talking it out is a good way to figure out ways to mitigate it before it can do any damage.