Athens, GA, August 08, 2009 --(PR.com
)-- As the new school year approaches, parents may begin to experience a variety of emotional responses to this annual ritual. During this period, it is common for parents and guardians to have conflicting feelings about their child’s return to the school environment. As a result, parents may feel a unique stress not typically encountered during other times of the year.
According to Dr. Kip Matthews, an Athens psychologist who specializes in anxiety disorders and performance psychology, there is a there is often a type of apprehension that goes along with their child’s return to class. “Parents commonly worry about the degree of fit between their child and their teachers and if they can trust these new teachers to teach and mentor their child, as needed,” he observes. On top of the concerns about their new teachers, both the child and parents experience stress when they think about who the classmates will be.
These worries and fears are often compounded by the frantic stress of preparing for the return to school. Beginning the first day when school supply lists are published, parents feel the pressure of making sure that their child has all the supplies he or she needs. Dr. Angela Londoño-McConnell, founder of AK Counseling & Consulting, Inc., notes that this year is particularly difficult for parents. “With many families experiencing financial strain, everyone is trying to find the best deal possible and it may be that some children will not be able to get even the basic kit of supplies needed for school.” Many groups and organizations are trying to respond to this need by soliciting donations of school supplies, ranging from backpacks to notebooks.
The beginning of a new school year also brings along a sense of sadness and loss. Summertime is a period of relaxation, fun, and enjoyment. Along with that, many families share a bonding experience that brings them closer together as a family unit. Vacations, trips to the pool, and even seeing the summer blockbusters at the movies all promote that sense of connection. When parents see their child go off to school that first day, there is often a bit of sadness because of the loss of family-time.
On the bright side, many parents are comforted by the routine and structure that the school year brings. Parents can find solace in the fact that they often know exactly where and when their child can be found and what they are doing. Moreover, knowing that they are safe and are being supervised by responsible adults can instill a sense of relief not found during the summer months for some children.
What can parents do to deal effectively with this emotionally-laden time? Dr. Matthews recommends the following:
Acknowledge fully and openly what you are feeling. Many parents do not take the time to be present and mindful about everyday experiences.
Take time to manage your stress effectively. Practicing yoga, exercising, or prayer and meditation have all been found to helpful at reducing stress.
Plan family-time during the school year that would promote bonding. Whether it may be a mini-vacation or a weekend picnic at a local park can promote that feeling of togetherness.
Locate local community resources that are offering reduced price or free school supplies. If you are on a limited budget, use all the resources at your disposal to help your family financially.
Seek professional help if you are feeling overwhelmed and cannot manage the stress effectively. If you notice your stress negatively impacting your relationships or work performance, it may be important to turn to a licensed psychologist for help in managing these emotional responses.
J. Kip Matthews, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in the State of Georgia and is Vice-President and Co-Founder of AK Counseling & Consulting, Inc. in Athens, GA. Recently, he has been involved in the American Psychological Association’s Mind-Body Health Public Education Campaign. Dr. Matthews offers programs on numerous topics including stress management, men’s issues, relationship enhancement, and performance psychology.
Dr. Angela Londoño-McConnell is a licensed psychologist and President and co-founder of AK Counseling & Consulting, Inc. in Atlanta, Georgia. She has extensive experience in the area of cultural diversity. Dr. Londoño-McConnell is currently the Georgia Psychological Association Public Education Campaign Coordinator and the state’s liaison to the American Psychological Association public education efforts. Dr. Londoño-McConnell is frequently interviewed by regional, national and international media and is a regular guest on CNN En Español.
J. Kip Matthews, Ph.D.
Vice-President / Psychologist
AK Counseling & Consulting, Inc.