Back to School Stressors
Did you know that a recent study published by the New York Post shows that 60% of parents lose more sleep during the back-to-school season? Having a routine schedule in preparation for the school season can benefit both parents and their children in adjusting to the new routine.
Dr. Lauren Ayersman, a physician with St. Clair Medical Group Family Medicine expresses, “I always encourage families to have a plan and be consistent with their back-to-school schedule. Consistency really is key and plays a large role on the impact of stress. It is important for parents to learn how to identify when their child may be experiencing stress and study ways that can help reduce stress for themselves and their children.”
School season is tough on the students and parents, so here’s a few tips for those parents that are still trying to figure out that best methods for their families.
- Wait and digest the school and teachers through your own lenses
Every individual has their personal opinion and experiences with a school and individual teacher related with their child. It’s important to remember to stay open-minded during the new school year and learn about the teachers your child may be in contact with and how their relationship is going. Your child may bond better with some teachers over others. A healthy reminder to listen to how your child is feeling with the class, peers, and teachers to understand where stress may be stemming from during the school year.
- Discuss healthy eating habits and try to encourage good nutritional foods
“Having a well-balanced food group that is full of proteins, fruits, vegetables, whole grains is beneficial to kids. Although every once in a while every individual can treat themselves to a juicy snack such as a candy bar. It’s important to identify what “healthy” snack means to you and your kids. Fruit snacks and granola bars seem to be a “healthy” choice, however, the majority of them are loaded with sugar,” says Dr. Ayersman. Make sure as parents you’re reading ingredient labels and understanding what your children are eating. Simple sugars such as glucose, fructose, high fructose corn syrup and honey give kids small burst of energy after digesting but they will crash hard once the sugar wears off which can really impact the kid’s day at school.
- Be a good listener and start preparing for the school season early
There is a lot that a parent cannot control once their child is at school, therefore, it’s beneficial to reduce stress by getting ahead on what your children will need for the upcoming year and learn about the current school policies in place to put the parent’s mind at ease. Most often parents stress because their child is stressed and showing signs of difficult times or struggle. “We try to give our children family time but also individual time. Having three children can make life very busy so sometimes we have to remember to slow down and check in with our kids. If one of my kids seem stressed or anxious, my husband and I try to set aside time just for them. One-on-one time takes away the distractions of everyday, family life. It allows our child to talk and it also gives time for me to be present with my individual child struggling. Sometimes having rituals or traditions prior to the start of school can help with the transition for you and the kids,” says Dr. Ayersman.
- Extracurricular activities and physical activity
Activities and sports can be a great outlet for kids to take their mind off a problem or to help them release and exert negative, built-up energy. Not only does it give kids an outlet, but it also helps with a good night’s sleep. Rest is super important for both parents and kids and will reset their minds for another successful day of learning and tackling projects.
Keep in mind though, sometimes you can go overboard with too much activity. Dr. Ayersman adds, “Kids tend to want to try everything that their friends are trying, so parents may unknowingly go overboard with afterschool activities such as sports games, practice, dance classes, etc. Scheduling too many extracurricular activities for a child can actually have the opposite effect. It can add more stress to the kids but also the parents.” Kids need downtime from school but also from sports. Parents need to make sure that there is at least one to two days that kids are free to be kids.
Routine is key for parents and children to have a successful start to their school and year. Be aware and understanding of methods that may or may not work for you and your kids. It’s not a one size fits all approach but remembering to encourage healthy eating habits, be a good listener, don’t forgot exercise and social time, and also remember downtime is essential too.
If searching for a new family medicine physician in the area to discuss back-to-school stressors, wellness exams, and medical history with, please contact St. Clair Medical Group’s Family Medicine practice at 412.942.8570.
Dr. Ayersman specializes in family medicine. She earned her medical degree at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine and completed her residency at Lehigh Valley Health Network. She is board certified by the America Osteopathic Board of Family Medicine. Dr. Ayersman practices with St. Clair Medical Group Family Medicine. To contact Dr. Ayersman, please call 412.942.8570.