Helping Kids With Back-to-school Issues

Air Date:
Heard On The Larry Meiller Show
kid with backback behind fence

As kids go back to school, problems can arise. Our two guests talk about how to deal with peer pressure, being bullied, over scheduling and test anxiety.

Featured in this Show

  • 3 Ways To Help Your Child's Back-To-School Blues

    Fall can be exciting.

    A new school year, new school supplies and the possibility of new friends are just around the corner.

    But for some children, all this newness can bring anxiety and worry. Psychologist Myrna Shure and University of Wisconsin-Extension family living educator Tenley Koehler offer a few tips for parents of children struggling to adjust:

    1. Don’t Lecture.

    “Because after a while, children tune out, they’ve heard those suggestions and explanations a thousand times by the time they’re 3 or 4 years old,” Shure said. And it does little to quell their anxiety.

    As early as preschool, she said, children have developed basic problem-solving skills. Let them use them.

    “It guides behavior and prevents more serious behaviors later on because kids feel successful and cared about, rather than just being yelled at what to do all the time,” she said.

    How do you do that?

    2. Involve The Child In The Conversation.

    Children entering a new grade in school may worry the school work will be too difficult, they won’t like a teacher or that a classmate may bully them. They may feel overwhelmed.

    “As a parent, one of the first things we can do is get to the root of what they’re thinking about and maybe what they’re concerned about,” Koehler said. “Asking them, ‘What do you expect to happen? What do you think may be different? How are you feeling about these kinds of things?’ To open up a greater dialogue.”

    Starting a conversation is better than saying, “everything will be fine,” Shure said.

    “Kids aren’t feeling that way. And if you ask the child to tell you how he feels instead of you telling him how he feels, that can start a conversation that might put him at ease,” she said.

    3. Give Children The Tools To Describe How They Feel.

    Kids may need some coaching to talk about a new situation. Shure’s approach, which she writes about in her book, uses word pairs to accomplish that.

    Koehler uses this method often as an educator.

    “One of (the word pairs) is a set of ‘good place,’ ‘not a good place.’ And I had a family that was playing in the workbook… and they were saying, ‘Is the bathtub a good place to wear clothes, or is it not a good place wear clothes?’” Koehler said. “Later on, they were in church together, and (the child) leaned over to dad and whispered, ‘Is church a good place or not a good place to take a bath?’ They had a good time laughing about it.”

    “But later on, that child was able to use those words and say, ‘Is this a good place for me to leave my toys? Is this a good place to shout and run around?’ Using words that maybe they’ve learned before and now they’re (using) in a new way.”

Episode Credits

  • Larry Meiller Host
  • Jill Nadeau Producer
  • Myrna Shure Guest
  • Tenley Koehler Guest