The lazy days of summer are ending and it’s back to school. For some individuals it is a time of opportunity, growth, learning, and excitement. For others it is a time of dread. Your child may be thinking, how am I going to survive another school year? You may be thinking, how am I going to pay for another school year? My experience in working with children and adults with ADHD is that transitions in general are difficult and the “back to school” weeks are particularly rough waters to negotiate for everyone. Deep breaths – you can do this.
I initially sat down intending to focus this blog on ADHD and back to school days, but my thoughts evolved into reflecting on managing stress through any transition. First we need to recognize the transition and label it as such. “This too shall pass”. We need to remind ourselves that transitions don’t last forever, nor do our mood states that occur during them. By definition a transition time is temporary and giving it more weight than it deserves can be a slippery slope. That does not imply you shouldn’t take such life periods seriously – indeed you should! It is the temporary nature of a transition that I wish to emphasize. Whether good days or bad, they pass without our permission. Unless of course you have discovered the fountain of youth.
I would also like to raise awareness that a period of transition is usually not occuring to one person at a time. Transitions occur in systems, affecting classrooms, families, companies, and even countries when they invade our lives. Which means an individual is impacted not only by the content of the transition itself, but by the others reactions around them to that transition. For example, say your 3rd grader is going back to school and is worried. It’s their transition, yet your life changes as much as theirs. So too may your mood. Or maybe your child is angry about school. Maybe instead you are relieved they are out of the house as you envision a more peaceful day for yourself. The varying reactions we have to the same event are as endless as the events themselves.
Try to find common ground during such transitions. What is it we are all seeking? When you boil down all the excess baggage, we basically have the same needs at our core, children and adults alike: the need to feel safe (physically and emotionally), to be understood, to feel loved, to be heard, to have a sense of purpose and happiness. We all want to be accepted for who we are, our good points and our not so good ones. Knowing someones faults and loving them despite those faults is one of the greatest gifts we can offer.
So during this back to school transition time, take a moment to remember it will pass, and despite our varying reactions to stress, what we all want at our core is the same. Perhaps we can wish each other a safe back to school season filled with acceptance and understanding. Or at least a good nights sleep.
Theresa Cerulli, M.D.