My son started school this week. 3rd grade ~ he’s a big boy (he frequently reminds me) and is fine. I’m a nervous wreck!Why am I so anxious?
I spent a little time trying to figure this out (really I did) and think it all boils down to 4 things: uncertainty, change, trust (or lack thereof) and the need to protect. Almost everyone on his team is new this year ~ from the classroom teacher to his vision teacher and his many therapists. Many of them are also new to teaching a kid who’s blind, so not only are they learning about my son but also about one another. How are they going to ‘gel’ together as a team to effectively support him? How will he not get lost while all of that ‘gelling’ is happening? Irrational questions perhaps but I know I’m not alone.
Whether your child is starting pre-school, elementary, high school, university or anything and everything in between, when they have special or additional needs, there’s a higher degree of anxiety we parents have that’s inevitable. Back to school can simultaneously bring both excitement and anxiety of the new beginnings and challenges about to unfold.
Children feed off of their parent’s energy and vibe ~ they will be ok and successful…..if you are. So how can you make that happen? How do you ensure that you stay 1 step ahead in the game while maintaining your sanity (or at least most of it) throughout? How can you be successful this school year and beyond?
DESTROY YOUR ROCKING CHAIR
Confused? Think I’ve lost the plot? Perhaps but it’s based off of a fantastic quote I came across recently by Jodi Picoult which says:
“Anxiety’s like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it doesn’t get you very far.”
You have to destroy your rocking chair to be more productive and less anxious this school year ~ but how?
- IDENTIFY YOUR ROCKING CHAIR – What causes/triggers your anxiety? What is it about your child, their school, your routine, your situation this year that causes you to feel anxious? Take a moment to write it down. This is key because when you pinpoint what it is, you can better pinpoint how to eliminate or minimize it. I identified my four triggers mentioned above plus the gelling process of a new team. For me, specifically the triggers were the uncertainty about what was ahead, change of his team, not fully trusting his new team (largely because I’m still getting to know them) and my need to protect my child from unnecessary challenges, more than what he will already face. Once you’ve identified your ‘rocking chair triggers’ you can move on to the next step, which is….
- STOP ROCKING – Change what you’re doing, have always done when school starts if it’s not getting you anywhere. I’ve found that a powerful way is to start communicating. Communicate either in writing or verbally, to yourself, your partner/spouse and to your child’s team, communicate your concerns and anxieties in a simple and direct way. Start off positively and be specific with your feelings and why. Example: “I’m happy you’re working with my son/daughter this year but feel anxious because I’m not clear yet on the specifics of how he/she will be supported, how the team will communicate, etc”. State whatever it is you’re anxious about and after you’ve gotten an answer, listen to it and use it to help you with the 3rd and final tip, which is….
- GET OUT OF AND/OR DESTROY YOUR ROCKING CHAIR. To do this, I suggest you implement the G.A.S. method (don’t giggle). This stands for Goals, Action, Support and simply means:
- GOAL ~ Set your Parent Goal(s) for the year in 1,2,3 week timeframes, not over the entire school year, and decide and jot down what you need/want/have to do as a parent.
- ACTION ~ Prioritize and break down your parent goals into small manageable chunks. Ask yourself: “what you I need to do today and how can I get it done” Remember, as always, there will be many ways to get something done.
- SUPPORT ~ Create your parenting support system. Ask: who do I need to help me get it done? (ie. the teacher, therapist, counselor, principal, another parent). How can they help me? (i.e. think of what they can specifically offer you ~ (i.e. time, information, etc)
*Remember your best support may not be found in the most common places.
Given that school is all about having a routine, I encourage you to establish a routine of these 3 tips for a couple of weeks and see how you feel. Less Stressed? Less Anxious? More Clarity? More in Control of your Thoughts/Emotions? Better Equipped to Parent?…or all of the above.
I’m confident that you will experience a real positive change. At the very least, you will have either destroyed, gotten rid of or minimized the time spent in your ‘rocking chair’
That’s a good start.