Common Stressors of the Back-to-School Season and How to Deal With Them
On Sounds Good, Dr. Michael Bordieri and Tracy Ross discuss methods of easing the transition from summer back to school for K-12 and college students.
Bordieri says the change in structure that comes along with the back-to-school season can be stressful for both kids and parents. Changes in sleep schedules can be one of the biggest stress factors. Bordieri says missing even one or two hours of sleep can have major effects on memory and attention in the classroom. There are varying opinions on how to go about the schedule change but Bordieri says the general suggestion is to stick to a routine once it comes time for the transition. He says it is also important to protect hours of sleep by establishing a set time to go to bed and a set time to get up.
The unknowns of a new school year also contribute to stress, Bordieri says. Kids can experience anxiety over making new friends or worrying over how they will do in class. Bordieri says parents can help normalize those feelings by sharing their own experiences of starting back to school as well as giving kids permission to express dissatisfaction with the experience.
For first-time college students, the transition back to school is the start of a new phase of life.
“It really is a big developmental jump, right. That you go from sort of being in a structured environment at home and having really clear rules, you have to be in class. Well, in college you don’t have to be in class. You know, I teach here, I’m not going to go out and find you if you’re not there. And there are consequences when you don’t show up,” Bordieri said. “So I think some of it is learning that. You want enough room to explore and sometimes the lessons you’re going to learn are when you mess up a little bit. There’s a little bit of room to do that.”
Bordieri says it is important to allow time to adjust to a new structure but also to establish a routine going forward.
“If you want pancakes at 3:00 a.m., go get pancakes, it could be great, it’s fun. And if you do that every night and you’re not sleeping, then there are consequences to that. So I think there is some of that learning going on,” Bordieri said.