It’s the first day of third grade for my kiddo today. And while I know most moms are posting pictures of their kids who are excited, indifferent, or not happy about the school year while they (mom) is drinking a glass of wine or floating in a pool with a big old smile on her face excited for some much needed mom-can-pee-alone-time… I on the other hand am a hotter mess than I was on my son’s first day of kindergarten.
And I’m willing to bet I’m not alone here. If you have a child who struggles in school, either academically, or socially, or behaviorally, I’m guessing you aren’t exactly over the moon about your child starting another year of school.
Our son struggles with fitting into the box the school wants him to fit into. He would much rather work as a group with everyone working towards the same goal than be told to sit alone in his desk, stay quiet, don’t fidget, don’t blurt things out, raise your hand before you do anything, don’t look at or talk to your neighbor, don’t help your neighbor with their work, etc.
We are the parents who received phone calls and emails from the teachers asking to meet with them, and them wanting us to medicate him. Officially he’s been diagnosed with ADHD, Anxiety, and an overactive adrenal gland that is pumping an excessive amount of adrenaline into his system which is affecting his heart and magnifying his hyperactivity. Last year was an absolute nightmare and almost ended with us keeping him home the last two weeks of school, and I was honestly looking into homeschooling him for his next grade of school.
Even this year I was second guessing our decision to send him back to school when on the way to back-to-school open house he told me that he knows that this year is going to be an awesome year, and know how he knows that? Because his teacher this year likes him and they are friends, and his teacher last year didn’t like him, and she was mean to him. And unfortunately, he is right, she so much as told us so. No second grader, no matter how difficult, should ever be made to feel that way by their teacher.
As if getting up earlier and getting used to a new routine, shopping for and making lunches, navigating new friendships and getting used to a new teacher weren’t enough, my kid is thinking about whether or not his teacher will like him.
So how are you coping with your child’s first day of school if your child doesn’t exactly ‘fit in the box?’ Here are some things that are helping me get through the day.
*Pray. This past week I have prayed harder than I normally do daily. I have prayed for my son, that he learns to love school again, that he feels encouraged and loved and that he is ‘enough’. I have prayed for his teacher, that he will have the energy and patience to teach all in his class each day, that he will be open to my son and accept and embrace him for who he is, and that he will encourage my son and the other children in the class and make them feel that they are exceptional, and that they can do it. I have prayed for God to give me perspective, patience, and acceptance.
*Breathe. When I start to feel overwhelmed with the anxiety of starting a new school year, I need to stop myself and take a breath, and reset my emotions. Being stressed and anxious isn’t going to help anyone, not me, not my son, not my husband or other children. I need to breathe, get some good ol’ H2O to my big ol’ brain and reset myself.
*Choose to Accept. My husband keeps telling me that I need to accept things for what they are and realize that I can’t change how our son behaves in school, and that eventually he will mature and figure things out. And part of me knows he is right. The other part still freaks out and has anxiety about it all. But choosing to accept that I can’t carry this load for our son, I can’t be there helping him along, and yes, eventually he will figure it out and he will make choices that will help him through his day a little better can help me to keep things in perspective and calm my anxious heart.
*Find Support. I have an amazing and supportive husband, a great friend who also teaches at my sons school, and a handful of Godly women who are more than willing to hear me, help me, calm me, and pray for me and our son. Having this support system and being willing to humble myself and reach out when I’m struggling has made a huge difference in how well I can cope with things when they do come up with school, or life in general.
*Take One Day at a Time. Stress and anxiety seem to hit me when I’m worrying about what ‘might’ happen. Even if ‘might’ is actually ‘probably will’, that still doesn’t mean that it has happened, and it also doesn’t mean that you should worry about things or let it affect you. This is much easier said than done, but taking one day at a time, choosing to address issues only when they come up and accepting that you can’t head each potential issue off and prevent it, truly does make a difference. It’s also reality… which is sometimes hard to remember.
If you are stressed about the start of another school year, hopefully one of these tips will help you through your day.
Philippians 4:6-7, “Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (HCSB)