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Back To School Is More Than Shopping

As we think about the new beginnings of another school year and all that brings to a child, adolescent, and family thoughts arise about whether the year will enter softly like a leaf falling from a tree or like a vicious tornado that we need to survive. This, in large part, has to do with how “back to school shopping” is managed.

This critical time of transition is about so much more than simply buying stuff. It is a time to explore the child and adolescent’s thoughts and feelings about the impending journey they are about to embark on and helping to manage fears and anxieties and perhaps harness unrealistic expectations.

Before sending your teen off to the mall with their friends, set a date to do at least some of the shopping with them, with a planned break for snack or lunch (chat time). Car rides are the perfect opportunity to explore teen feelings and ideas.

For those younger thinkers, as they are picking out their lunchboxes, it is a perfect opportunity to ask questions about who they think they might see at lunch or recess in school. As they are grabbing the pencils and crayons off the shelf, talk about thoughts and feelings regarding classwork and homework. My son remembers “hating!!!!!” doing his 10 sentences in the beginning of 2nd grade but getting so much better “and faster” at completing them by the end of the year.

Lastly, remember school is not the place for parents to live out a child fashion show. Chose your battles. If he/she wants to wear the same ugly orange shirt three times every week, so be it.

A child who feels secure, comfortable, safe and happy will be more open to learning and making friends.

Debbie Mann

Rob Mann, LCSW

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