My baby beside, me at the wheel.
I stole a hug at the school turnstile.
My curiosity runnin wild.
Cruisin and playin the radio,
With no particular place to go.
Life is Good
And then…..you ask how their day went.
“Mom, my teacher is too strict. I’ve already been to the office 3 times today!” and “My teacher yelled at me today. All I did was throw my books at my friend!” or “No one likes me. Not even my teacher.”
Driving home can be a very anxiety inducing project. And answering the phone during the day can be as well. “Mrs. Smith, I just wanted to let you know that Freddy chose to come to the office again. He is having trouble keeping his hands to himself.”
These kinds of things happen every year, to many people. But when they happen to you, sometimes it is difficult to know what to do. Let’s go over a few tips that will help you determine if this is something that a great parent like you can take care of, or if a professional may be needed instead.
Teacher’s don’t usually call the first 2 weeks of school, do they?
- Review your routine in your head or with your parenting partner. Are your children getting enough sleep? Studies show that getting even 15 minutes more sleep a day can make major differences in all areas of children’s lives. Children need at least 10 hours of sleep per night until around puberty and then they need 9 and ½ hours after that. Once we are adults, we can make do with 8 hours, but many of us need more like 9 still.
- Review your child’s eating habits. Are they getting hungry during the day? Do they eat a good breakfast with protein and fruit? After school, are they grumpy because they are hungry? Talk to them about what they are eating for lunch and snacks at school. It may be that you have provided a great lunch through the school or in a lunch box, but they aren’t eating any of it for some reason.
- Review your child. Is this behavior surprising? Out of character? Or is it consistent with who they have been their whole life? It is important to realize that some personality, learning and social differences make school more difficult for some children.
- Review your life at the moment. Did a pet die recently? Have you moved? Is there conflict or tension in a relationship around them? These types of experiences can be very difficult for a child to understand but talking to a trusted adult can help normalize their feelings and express them more appropriately.
- Talk to your child. Listen for feelings of stress, anxiety, worry, or shame. These can be overwhelming emotions that children will need help working through and assisting, coaching them through them is important.
After you and your parenting partner have talked about these 5 areas, work on the things you can control: the routine, the nutrition, the quality time with your child. If the teacher continues to have concerns or difficulties, calling a professional may be necessary. The school counselor may recommend a doctor, occupational therapist, or a mental health counselor. Listen to their advice, but keep in mind they do not know your child and family like you do. You may decide that one type of professional is a better fit than the other, especially once you meet with one.
Typically, a mental health therapist specializing in your child’s age group is a good first step. Your first visit will be with the therapist without your child so they can help you create a better understanding of what is going on with your child. Once that understanding is reached, a preliminary treatment plan of either support for you and the interventions you can do or face to face treatment between your child and the therapist can begin. This may or may not involve the school and can best be determined on a case by case basis. Many times, a therapist will request information from the school about what is going on there, either through a phone call or through a behavior checklist like the Child Behavior CheckList from Achenbach.
See yourself in this article? Need to check that you are on the right track? Give us a call at 940-222-8703 ext 700. I can help you determine what your next step may be. Our therapists have worked with people from all ages and walks of life and are connected to many of the service providers in our area. Don’t feel alone, let us help you make stronger children, stronger families, and a stronger community.
Christy Graham is the head cheerleader of Acorn Counseling Education Services. She has 3 children and likes to say she has been working with children and families since the last century. She and her husband have lived in Denton, Texas since 2001. She is a registered play therapist and a licensed professional counselor supervisor.