Archive of ‘Back to School’ category

The Misbehaving Student…and How to Help Them

It is the most difficult children who often need us the most.  We hear from people working in schools that consequences and suspensions do not seem to change their behavior.  Core curriculum, testing and other requirements are putting an incredible burden on teachers. These challenging students are often the tipping point for a class.

What these misbehaving children are really looking for is to feel like they belong in the class, and that they are cared about.

Many of the misbehaving children have had things happen in their young lives that cause them to distrust others.  They may not have been fed or had their physical needs taken care of as babies, so they do not understand “if-then” thinking – if I cry, I get fed.  If I act out in class, then there are consequences. Some may be dealing with abuse or neglect of them or a parent, drugs or alcohol in the home, or violence.  They may feel they always have to be “on guard”, to protect themselves. 

All it takes is one adult to make a difference a child’s life.

So what can be done to help?  Here are some ways to build relationships with these most difficult children:

  • Get to where you can speak face to face with them.   Speak calmly and slowly. If you remain calm, it will help them to calm down.
  • Express an understanding of how they are feeling, saying “It seems like you are really angry.  Tell me more.” And then listen.
  • Ask them what you can do to help them.  They may need a break from being in the class, so asking if they would like to bring something to the office or another class may help.
  • Focus on building the relationship.  As trust is built, they may question it, as they may not have had a trusting relationship with an adult before. 

It is important to have patience and give it time.  These children likely have had years of bad relationships with adults.  As the relationship builds, the whole class benefits. There will be less disruptions, and more teachable time.  You can be that “one adult” for this child!

Written by: Carol Dores

Carol is a Certified Positive Discipline Trainer. She has worked with educators and staff of preschoolers through high school, as well as hundreds of parents of all aged children (prenatal to adult). She co-founded Positive Discipline of Connecticut, and served as Co-Chair of the international Board of Directors of the Positive Discipline Association. Carol has worked with schools in bringing Positive Discipline to whole school settings. She has two adult sons and a husband of over 35 years. Their relationships continue to grow and benefit from Positive Discipline.

Beating the Back-to-School Blues

Sometimes it feels like sweet summertime will never end. Then, all of a sudden, it’s August and you’re scrambling to get school supplies, sign up for extracurricular activities, and getting used to the idea of waking up at 6AM. Meanwhile, your child is feeling anxious about the new school year, as shown by tearful outbursts, or even declaring they’re not going back to school.  It can seem like this time will always be stressful, but there are concrete things you can do to make the transition into the school year go smoothly for you and your kids. 

Practice School Routines

Get on a good sleep schedule a couple weeks before school starts. This will help alleviate morning grumpiness and help your child be prepared for the school day. Pick out new school supplies with your child and have them packed. This will help your child to feel some control over the process. In addition, let your child help plan their lunches for the first week. This doesn’t mean packing cupcakes and cookies! Emphasize to your child the need for healthy lunches to make them feel their best. 

Get Familiar

If going to a new school, tour the school beforehand, especially if you know where their classroom or locker will be. Your child will feel better being familiar with a new place. Walking your child through their class schedule will help them feel more confident those first weeks. If possible, meet the teacher! Meeting the teacher in a low pressure setting will help your child feel more confident about what to expect from this school year. 

Make New Friends

If your child is going to a new school or one in a new area, set up a few play dates with other children who are going to the same school before it starts. A few familiar faces will greatly ease your child’s nerves! For older children, find spots where kids their age like to hang out. 

Reflect on the Positives

Ask your child what are some of the things they liked best about their last school year. Maybe it was being part of a certain club or sport. See how you can incorporate these things into their new school year to help them get excited about it. 

Identify Fears

Listen to your child’s fears about the upcoming school year. Letting your child talk about any worries they may have will help them release the burden of carrying these fears by themselves. Sometimes all kids need is to be listened to. 


Change is hard! Change when you’re a kid can be downright scary. Being nervous is a normal reaction to change. Let your child know that you are there to help them through the process. Point out the exciting parts of starting school, but empathize with them when they’re feeling nervous. Both are necessary to helping your child overcome their fears.

Get involved

Knowing what to expect will help you and your child feel more prepared. Meet members of the community and school so that you know what to expect. Join the PTA or volunteer within your community. Being friends with other parents in similar situations will help you feel less alone and able to conquer this time of transition. If you ever feel overwhelmed by the stress of the school year, meet with a mental health professional who can help you find ways to better balance and manage the stress. 

By: Michelle Beyer, LPC-Intern
Supervised by Karen Burke, LPC-S, RPT-S

Why Do Teens Have Back to School Anxiety?

If you are a parent of a teenager, you may have asked yourself this question a time or two. You probably think back to your high school days and wonder what is there to be anxious about? Take a deep breath and know that your teen isn’t the only one that has back to school anxiety. Teens have a lot more social and academic pressure than generations in the past. Things your teen may be thinking about in the weeks leading up to school are much deeper than not wanting to get up early or having homework again. Many teens find high school to be complicated part of life. Teens often have fun and enjoy seeing their friends, but it’s also full of rejection, confusing feelings, and self doubt. So why do teens have back to school anxiety? It could be a number of things, but here are a few topics that might cross their mind.

By: Savannah Stoute, LPC-Intern Supervised by Leslie Larson, LPC-S

Am I smart enough?

Academic pressures are on a completely different level compared to when I was in High School. They may receive this pressure from their parents and teachers, but in my experience, many teens put this pressure on themselves. Many teens believe they must compete academically at a much higher standard than the majority of their classmates, sometimes even better than students that are older than them. This belief is sometimes warranted because many colleges and universities admission requirements are much more strenuous compared to previous years.
Some things that colleges take into consideration and teens are concerned about include GPA, difficulty of curriculum, SAT/ACT scores, and even extra-curricular activities or volunteer service. With many universities receiving thousands of applications each year with nearly perfect grades, the competition level is tough.

Where do I fit in?

One of the more difficult aspects of Middle School or High School is finding where you fit it. This may be easy for some teens that are interested in theater or sports, but what about the teens that don’t fit into one very specific group? Part of you might want to tell your teen not to worry about it, but that will be easier said than done. You may have heard that a teenager’s most important relationships are their peer relationships; So finding ways to encourage your teen to follow their interest in order to find like minded peers that will accept your teen for who they are.

How do I look?

This isn’t always the most important thing to teens, but there are schools and peer groups that put more pressure on this topic than any other. A lot of the pressure comes from social norms. These days with Snap Chat and Instagram, a teen can get caught up into social media frenzy if they aren’t dressed to the nines. This isn’t always the experience of every teen. I’ve met many teens that are confidant in their style and dress the way they want no matter what their peers say. However, there are teens that value their peers’ opinions so much that their own self worth and self esteem is dependent on that acceptance. This also connects back to the previous topic of fitting in.

Your teens are going to be anxious about a hundred different things before school starts. You might hear about some of these things and you might not. Teens are notorious for keeping things from their parents, right? But if you think your teen is anxious, try asking curiosity questions or telling them about a time when you were anxious before starting a new job or school. These types of questions might inspire your teen to open up and they might not, but taking the chance and trying to connect is the most important thing.

Why do Teens have Back to School Anxiety?

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