August 8, 2016

As our kids head off to school, many are off to new schools and colleges for the first time. As parents we need to be present moment with them as they begin this new period of life. They may have serious trepidation and frank fear about a new environment or leaving home. Here are some tips for helping your kids cope with school changes.

For the younglings (K through 5)

Start routine development 1 to 2 weeks before school begins:

1) Get them up at the appropriate wake up time for school and have a regular breakfast every morning. Make sure it is balanced and contains carbohydrates, fats and proteins for a sustained brain experience. For example, eggs, a detox pancake and fruit. A pure carbohydrate breakfast, like a pop tart and orange juice, is a recipe for inattention and failure. Skipping breakfast at this age makes no sense and there is no data to support such a choice.

2) Get them to bed at the regular school year time.

3) Stop all screen time from Sunday night at 5pm until Friday night at 5 pm. Help their brains focus again on reading and scholastic activities. No TVs in the bedroom. Period!

4) Take a dry run to the school to let them know what it will feel like. Talk openly and without judgement about any fears that they may have no matter how silly they seem.

5) Give your kids a quiet area of the house to do homework and read. This could be in their room or a study room elsewhere in the house.

6) Get your kids involved in the school lunch process. Have them help pick HEALTHY meals. Go grocery shopping together and make decisions regarding what they like that is healthy and passes parental nutrition muster. Avoid all processed foods that are loaded with sugar and bad fats. Fresh food is best.

7) Randomly put a positive note in your child's lunch box to brighten their day. This is great for the older kids as well. (even if they don't act like they like it)

8) Read a back to school book to them.

For the older kids (6 -12th grade) - This time is all about supporting their quest to find out who they truly are!

1) Talk about your experiences with junior high school, high school and college.

2) Let them know that you are here to listen in the first few weeks to their stresses and fears.

3) Work hard on healthy meals for them to maintain a focused mind. If they feel better skipping breakfast, honor it with a plan for a healthy meal when they choose to eat it.

4) Help them to understand that being who they genuinely are is the key. Being someone else or trying to please others through faking, lying or ... will always catch up to them. Praise their work ethic and help them understand how you dealt with tough adolescent situations. This makes you real in their eyes and will open them up to conversations that can heal them.

5) Give them the freedom to grow, but be there when they stumble. Put up wide guard rails that protect from bad outcomes but do not limit exploration or growth.

6) Encourage them to get 8-10 hours of sleep a day and sleep in on Saturday if they need extra rejuvenating sleep. This is especially true for our student athletes.

7) Never stop encouraging them to pleasure read!

8) Encourage them to drink water, green and herbal teas, and seltzer water as the main choice for rehydration.

My take home point today: Be prepared,

Keep enjoying summer until it is gone,

Dr. M