Friday, August 5, 2011

First Week Of School Blues

The first week of the new school year is over and as the school counselor, I have been busy comforting crying children who miss mom, dad, brother, sister or their second cousin once removed. It’s interesting to me that I don’t often have crying children on the first day but for the next week or so, I usually have several. What’s going on here? Why cry on the second day but not the first?

I’m reminded of a Peanuts cartoon I saw recently where Charlie Brown says to his little sister, “School starts Monday.” To which she replies, “Not for me!” “What do you mean, not for you?” Charlie Brown asks. “I went last year!” Lucy says. I think many kids could empathize with that statement. On the second day of school, they feel that the newness of a fun first day is over and there is the realization that this school stuff is more than a onetime thing. There’s a lot of anticipation and hype about the first day, but what about the 2nd day or the 50th or the 150th day? As one crying student told me, “My brother didn’t tell me kindergarten would be so hard!”

What’s a mom, a dad, a counselor to do? Taking personality styles into consideration is important. For the ‘D’ wired child, find a way for them to be challenged and have choices within the structure of their day. For the ‘I’ wired child, be sure to include lots of interaction with others and some fun activities both in their school day and in preparation for it. For the ‘S’ wired student provide plenty of reassurance and ensure a peaceful, stress free morning. Finally, for the ‘C’ wired student emphasize routine and doing things the best way.

As with many situations, being consistently understanding but firm is the key. Of course you check to see if there is a bully on the bus or recent trauma in their lives, but my experience is that just the opposite is true. The child, who has faced adversity of some kind and made it through, is not usually the child crying in my office. The child crying in my office is more likely the child who has so far lived a very safe comfortable life with few challenges or conflicts. The best thing we can do is to encourage, support and remind them that they are strong enough to handle whatever comes their way.

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