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Back to school time!
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Back to school time!
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mm cross our fingers and really hope that all this progress continues into the school year. I don't advise that. I know that sounds really weird, but be proactive, it is so much better to prepare your child and say, look, you're probably going to feel a little bit sick the first day of school. Um if that's their normal thing or look, you're probably gonna feel anxious the first day of school and then normalize it, that's normal. We all feel nervous the first week of school and it gets better over time, but I want you to know that that anxious feeling that you're going to have the first day of school is normal and everybody feels that. So let's talk about some of the things that you think might make you the most anxious, have this conversation and get like a little bullet pointed list of all the things that they're worried about, you might be surprised that something might pop up that you hadn't thought about, Something might pop up that is actually quite simple that you can fix. And so if you don't broach the subject and have a dialogue about it before you start school, you may be caught off guard and your child might be caught off guard because a lot of the kids I see, even in my practice will say, no, I'm looking forward to school. I'm looking forward to school. It's gonna be great. And I will say, and it sounds like, I mean, therapist thing to do, I'll say, you know, it may not go great, it might be a little bumpy and that's ok. Yeah. Yeah. You might feel nauseous if that's their thing, your stomach might hurt. In fact it probably will hurt the first day. It might even hurt the 2nd day. That's okay. That doesn't mean your anxiety is coming back full force and all your progress is gone. It just means like, yeah, when you're nervous and you're going through a change, your stomach's gonna hurt. So let's pretend that your stomach does hurt. How are we going to cope with that? What should we do the first day to help your stomach and then go through that. Listen to my other podcasts on how to deal with that and talk about it so that you have a plan. Yeah, you're gonna miss me the first day we're separating and I know you've done great all summer but we haven't really been apart. Yeah. You went to your grandma's house but that's your grandma and you don't normally get nervous when you're at her house as much as you would if you're at school. So let's just assume you're going to be feeling pretty nervous the first day about separating. What can we do to help you through that. So then you're going to be proactive and you're going to see if your child says well I'm not going to school. Well okay now at least we know what it would have looked like and we're being proactive if they say well I'm just gonna call you or I'll just go to the nurse, well we don't really want to start off the school year that way. So now we can be problem solving and we can come up with some solutions. So my first point is be realistic, be proactive. And my second point, which really is very much like my first point is also have some good expectations by good, I don't mean good, I mean, realistic. So yeah, you're about to hit a bump if you are about to go to school and if you don't, I had quite a few people that I see in my practice where we were preparing for a big bump and then they emailed me and they said, hey Natasha, no bump made me feel good because I was like, I did really good therapy over the summer, no bump. But with those kids in my practice, I would say school is gonna be a bumpy and I would say to the parents, uh you know, I know things have been going great, but please expect a bump, we're gonna have some bumps here, you know, strap in because it's about to get bumpy. But when you prepare for that and it doesn't happen, it's like this great feeling like, oh my gosh, like where the bumps, but when you're not expecting it, have you been driving on the road and you hit a pothole or something and you didn't see it coming and it jars you and you're like, whoa. Like your neck gets thrown out because you just weren't expecting it and your heart's beating a little fast because it kind of startled you. But if there's a sign that says bump ahead, bump ahead slow down Sometimes it's actually annoying because by the time you get to the bump, you're like, seriously? Did you need that many signs to warn me about that one little bump? But you did because you were prepared. You were expecting this massive bump. So that's the philosophy behind my, you know, keep your expectations in check and even if they're pretty pretty at level, lower them just a little bit. Trust me, it helps. Okay, third point is I want you to role play out with your child or problems solved with your child. Any and all issues they are thinking they might have. Now you might have to go through the initial uh rabbit hole type of questioning that I talked about a lot. You know, what's the worst thing about blah blah blah? What's the worst thing about this? Because some kids might say um I don't even want to go to school school boring. So now you're not really having a very productive conversation. So then you might have to say stuff like I know and empathize. I always say this to my kids. Like I know, yeah. School sucks. I totally get it. But you know, it's not my it's not my deal. It's like societies deal. like you have to go. So let's just move past that. All right. We both acknowledge. Yeah, school sucks. Moving on. So what's the worst part about the first week or what's the worst part about going back And if they don't give you much, just keep pulling that string and seeing if you can get some more traction once you find out some of the problems, then you might want to role play it. So I'll give you an example some minor examples. Uh, my MS six was nervous about going back to first grade. And so I said to her, what's the scariest part about going back to school? And she said, I just don't even know where I'm supposed to go and I don't know where my classes and I'm scared to be in the big area because the kindergarteners are separated. And so I said to her, how about I park and I will walk you all the way in and I will show you where your classroom is and I will stand there at the flagpole with you for the first day and make sure you're okay. And if you need me to do that all week long or even all month long, I will do that until you feel comfortable. And there was just a huge belief on her face. And so we proactively problem solved that. And so there were no issues the second day of school and I was shocked. All my kids did amazingly. Well it is it was like crazy. I don't want to jinx myself. But this was a great school Year there into week three All three of my kids are doing phenomenal. Where's my wood knock on wood? I don't even know. This is what it's like a fake desk. Anyway maybe particle would so be proactive and plant with your kids role play as much as you can. So okay you're going to feel sick. What can you do the first day? What will help? That really does help. Then my fourth point is talk to the school if needed. Be proactive. I want you to um a lot of parents worry they want to keep this on the down low. They don't want that in their child's permanent record. They don't want to stigmatize their child. But we're talking about anxiety and O. C. D. We're not talking about, hey I just want you to know my kid like he set small fires and he really prefers bathroom fires so you should be really really careful. No that's not our kids they they're anxious and they have O. C. D. And they're not going to be on the radar unless you put them on the teacher or the school's radar. Now having said that Many of us don't need a 50. Four plan or an I. E. P. If you live in the United States and those are special plans that we do in the States to accommodate any kind of issues that are going on. So I won't go into all that. But many of us don't have that. That doesn't mean you can't talk to the school and it doesn't mean you have to talk to necessarily the administration or the school counselor. So it just depends on the level of what is going on. So ask yourself how much does my child's issues impact their daily functioning at school. What are some things that could happen that could go right? And so some of you might have obvious answers like oh my kid completely shuts down. He's going to go under the desk and they're not going to know how to handle that. They're gonna think it's oppositional. So for those of you with those kind of kids it's a no brainer. I need to talk to the school. Of course I talked to the school I talked to the school every year but I'm actually talking to more of the parents who have the subtle anxious kid or the kid who has O. C. D. But nobody knows about it. So you may not want to necessarily go and talk to the school administration about it. But I personally find it really helpful to talk to the teachers. So if I have a child that I feel like it's going it could impact their learning or you know maybe if they have O. C. D. They're going to ask the teacher questions over and over again. Or maybe they will actually confess to behaviors they didn't do. Or if I have a child with a panic attack maybe she's going to go really white and pale in the back of the room or maybe she will run out of the room when she's feeling nervous. Or maybe if I have a kid with the meta phobia she's going to feel nauseous all the time and the teacher is gonna think she's constantly sick so whatever it is for you I think it's good to give the teacher a heads up so you can email them before school starts and just be like hey you know excited that my kids in your class and here's some information about him. I just think that you should know this stuff. It probably won't impact school or learning but I think it's better for you to know in the beginning before you get started. And that way if you have any questions feel free to email me because I want to keep the communication and our line of communication open and I want you to know from the get go that if you see anything that's concerning or he looks anxious or he's kind of spacing out please let me know. So I can be proactive and catch it early. So an email like that um this year I didn't Really do that with my kids. Um so my oldest who is 14 her first year in high school, and she has everything under control. And so I didn't really need to do anything proactively for her, my son mr eight, he didn't say anything, went on meet the teacher before school started, but it doesn't really have anything that completely impacts his schooling, but his eating was a big problem, and sometimes when he's overly anxious, he also gets kind of agitated. So she sent home this like, let me know your child worksheet. And so I took it upon me to I asked him and I think it's good to be respectful to your kids and ask them, you know what, how much do you want me to tell your teachers and how can I help you succeed? And then if they don't want you to talk about it, you can let them know that it would be private just between me and the teacher. And this is why I think it would be a good idea because I want them to I don't want them to misunderstand you, I want them to understand, and then I want you to feel comfortable to be able to go up to your teacher because your teacher knows what's happening. So I asked My Mr. eight, Hey, do you want me to put some things down on here about some of your struggles? And he said yes, and he even told me, oh don't forget to include this. So I wrote it and I included it and I never.
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