Posted in Mental Health

Back to school jitters

imagesBack to school soon and sooner depending where you are located in Canada and the US. Here in Quebec the kids are back in next week.  It should be an exciting time for the little ones, right?  Well for many youths it is a great time of year.

For many, it’s a bit like that Wal-Mart commercial…you know the one with the mom holding her list and a little boy and a little girl that look bored out of their minds but don’t dare burst Mommy’s bubble, are shopping for school supplies.  It is a time of year that you start with new work books, new binders with fresh clean sheets. Don’t you love to write with your best handwriting possible on the first few pages?

Little Boy With Your Escholar Itens Going To School Royalty Free Cliparts, Vectors, And Stock Illustration. Image 10715678. -
Free Cliparts And Stock Illustration. Image 10715678.

Sharpening those Crayola crayons…oh, back up for a second,  (((((((((((rewind )))))))))))))))), they come pretty much all sharpened already now.  Oooops, I am sure dating myself now, aren’t I?  But you get the drift, right?  The crayons are all the same length and lined up nice and neat…for now anyway.

Others are getting the school uniform, matching pants, blazer/sweater and for some skirts but I hear many schools are

kids going to class - Clip Art Gallery
kids going to class – Clip Art Gallery

opting for pants for the girls too.  It may be a great idea to have a uniform but when the girls leave school premises and roll up those skirts just a tad too high, along with those blazers with the school logo, it may not give a good impression, right?

Some are out shopping for shoes and clothes because nothing fits anymore!…my oh my, how summer seems to make these kids grow like weeds!

It is also a financial strain for many families. And don’t kid yourself, many youths are aware of this strain.

New clothes, new school supplies and new haircut (that is sometimes put off to October when school pictures are taken). Getting to see buddies and friends you haven’t seen for 2 months.  Wow! That should be something to look forward to, right? You would think many youths would be anxious to see their friends and buddies.  It is a great opportunity for many who live in neighbourhoods where there are less youths their age. Finally, a place to hang out with friends during recess and lunch time.  Am I right?  You would think, eh?

I suppose for most it is a great time with the exception of the older teens who may have enjoyed waking up at 2 in the afternoon, school may be a huge adjustment but soon enough their circadian routine will get right back into the swing of things…hopefully.  Summer is fun too but after a while, social and intellectual stimulation is needed.

But for many youths that IS not the case at all.  For the couple of weeks, youths are thinking and dreading to get back to school.   There could be various reasons.  Let’s take a look at a few.

Some youths have difficulty in school due to learning differences.  That’s right, they just learn differently.  The information has to be taken in, regurgitated in a different way for many youths.  If he’s lucky, the school has identified the “difference” and has been able to implement a programme to help him learn better respecting his pace.  Let’s say he has the help required.  Great!  Some schools are great about this and all the students act like one big family, with students helping each other.  Now doesn’t that sound like a dream to you?!! Well, it is a dream unless you are in a special or private school with 10 to 15 students per classroom, this is rarely the case.  I am not saying some schools are able to promote this type of solidarity and team spirit but you know and I know that it does not happen often enough.  I have to admit it may be more prevalent in elementary schools but still, not all across the board.

bullyingThere is always “one” youth who will make an inappropriate comment to single out any students who are getting any form of “special education”.  And if that ONE student got a few snickers and laughs from the comment, the damage is usually difficult to repair unless someone acts real fast.

There is also “one” parent who may make a uncalled for comment about some students with learning differences taking up the teacher’s time.  I guess some of those parents do not always factor in that the school is usually getting extra $$$ for the extra time these students require.  I have a thing or two I could also add to that adult but that’s not the purpose of this post, not today anyway. {Keep smiling}

I remember speaking to a youth a very long time ago who said his friends didn’t like him much anymore because of his wisecracks.  In Kindergarten and Grade 1 he was considered the class clown.  But then his peers got wise to the type of comments…they were sarcastic, put downs and all that laughing was at their expense.     

Listening to him speak made me realize that he was a very brilliant young boy.  So we talked about his “gift” because that’s exactly what it is when someone is so smart, right?  It is a gift.  He didn’t have to work at it, or work hard to study like many of his peers.  So I explained that perhaps he caught on to things quicker and was not as tolerant when others didn’t catch on, hence, his spewing sarcasm from time to time.  He agreed on working on a plan to stop himself whenever he felt like blurting something cynical and to have a couple of good buddies remind him. Eventually he would learn to “think” before speaking.  I’ll never forget that boy.  The courage it took him to admit he was the one hurting his friends’ feelings.

There are lots of youths going back to school that are dreading going back to school to be exposed to more taunts, teasing and plain mean bullying.

They keep repeating old scenarios in their heads, from last year (and for the unlucky ones for several years) and it freaks them out.  I don’t blame them.  Many have given up telling a trusted adult (teacher, parent, counsellor or principal)  Yikes!! That’s not a great idea but they figure if the grown-ups in their lives can’t fix their problem, who can?

There are some youths and teens who have been so tormented with bullying (cyber bullying included) that they do not want to go back to school. Some have changed schools several times but it keeps on going on.

And sadly, there are some youths as young as 11 that talk about depression, self-harm and yes, even suicide.  Shocking?   I would say so!!  These are not the majority of youths…thank goodness but even if there is ONE student per school who is carrying this burden, that is WAY too much. 

It is so unfortunate to recognize that these types of situations are no longer just reserved to older teens (and by just I certainly do not mean that as a demeaning inference that it’s of lesser importance…not in the least!)

Adolescence is such a turbulent time in a youth’s life that being bullied does not need to be added to that se_high_school_bullyingcomplex equation of growing up!

–          Youths as young as 8 years old anticipate going back to school for various reasons like bullying, feelings of low self-esteem due to struggles learning and

–          many fear they just won’t fit in with their peers.

–          Some are changing school, new city, going into middle school or high school.  Those are “huge” transitions.

Do you remember how you felt going to college for the first time?   Remember starting your new job?  And those were during adulthood…so for young persons it is not as easy to go through these changes.

Some need help, some encouragement and lots of coaching and cheering on “You are doing great!! Good job!!”  I still feel great when someone tells me “great job”…it feels like being stroked by a piece of silk on my shoulder…that soft cool feeling, you know?

It is NOT part of growing up to feel that anxious, scared and worried about school.  Youths need support and guidance.  So, if you find your child is more rambunctious than normal, ask how he is feeling about school starting.  If she is usually an active and chatty person, and become more withdrawn and sensitive or testy…check it out. Any changes may be related to anxiety of getting back to school. 

–  Some youths may be anticipating how to make new friends…perhaps a few moved away; maybe they are going to high school…that’s a big transition and some are worried the school is going to be so big that their old friends will be drawn to new people and just forget about them.

–  Regardless of the academic level of a youth, peer relationships continue to be a huge part of their lives inside and outside of the classroom.   Friendships are often the first relationships youths make outside of their families; some may drift apart for various reasons as mentioned above but for the youth it can mean they are hurting and missing that person.  They need to know that they are not alone to make new friends.

Here is a great website that has umpteen ideas for youths and teens on bullying, friendships, emotional health and so much more.  Hopefully it can give you, the reader, some insights to help someone you know who is struggling with “back to school” jitters.



A little humour goes a long way…

Teach Chic: First Day of School
Teach Chic: First Day of School

© Cheryl-Lynn Roberts, August 21, 2013



A little bit about moi: I am a mom, a nana, a sister, a woman, a friend, a human being…a youth counsellor, Family Life Educator. I have been working in the helping profession for over 25 years and volunteered in various capacities from youths to seniors. Tournesol is my nom de plume for haiku and other Japanese form poetry here at Tournesoldansunjardin I hope you enjoy reading through my daily waka. I also have another blog "Stop the Stigma" where I may stand on my soapbox now and then and hope it will become a place to drop in and share or comment on issues important to you. In that vein this could be a great way to learn from each other. Namaste!

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