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3 Tips on Surviving the Back to School Transition

teen therapy in georgetown tx teen anxiety school stress

Here in Georgetown, TX we are in the full weather season of summer, and it has been brutal.  I recently remember thinking, “Wow, it’s only 97 today”, but those days seems to be a dream now.  For the most part it’s been triple digits, and to say it feels like a scorcher is an understatement.  Summer is actually my favorite season; at the same time, the sweltering heat is starting to feel oppressive.  If I don’t complete an outdoor activity, by 10:00am, it’s probably not happening.  All that to say, I don’t think we are transitioning weather seasons here anytime soon. 

What is starting to shift is the slide back to school. 

I’m starting to count down in weeks and days, not months. 

August is officially here. 

First day of school, the first scrimmage game, and morning practices are now squarely in view. 

Instead of the long, slow days of summer, we’re about to have the hot, busy days of fall. 

In my house, we’ve gotten a little lax on the cleaning and curfew schedule, and pretty soon, it’ll be time to reign it back in and regulate around a predictable routine. 

For most people I know, it’s actually been quite a busy summer.  Camps and travel are back in full swing.  Plenty of socializing with friends and family, depending on who you have close by.  Going to events or community activities.  It’s a lot!

I’m not sure what transitions are like for you. 

It’s something humans are accustomed to, in a sense, because they’re always happening: in each season there’s a weather transition, an age transition, and more often than not when you’re raising teens, there’s a skill transition. 

Right now, I have an emerging adult in my home who is learning to be in the world, imagining the possibility of a career, figuring out what living choices to make, all the while keeping their cards close to their chest, so us as parents feel a little in the dark. 

Your teen may be transitioning schools, grades, or life activities. 

You as a parent may be in a whole new season of child-rearing, coaching, or consulting depending on your teen’s age. 

While transitions are familiar for me, they’re also hard. 

I find transitions dysregulating. 

My mind likes to become preoccupied with my decisions. 

I lay up at night worrying. 

When things are changing, my body becomes tense, and I start to feel out of control, and I want to micromanage other peoples’ behavior. 

Like every parent raising teens, my home is going through a lot of big changes.  In order to support myself and you all as we enter another transition season, I wanted to offer some of my observations about ways to respond when the world starts to feel like it’s moving a little too fast.  

So, what’s a person to do when transitions are an inevitable part of this human life?  I definitely don’t have it all figured out, but here’s what I’ve been doing, and so far it’s been getting me through.

1) Talk it Out (or Write it Out)

For me this is less about the other person hearing me and more about me saying it out loud or putting it into words. 

Sometimes I forget about all the transitions I have going on in my life. 

Does that happen to you too?

Instead of taking a beat to acknowledge, “oh this is the end of Summer, or my last year with my teen, or my teen is now independent because they drive…”, often we trek full-steam ahead.  

I’m inviting you to really and honestly tell someone all of the transitions you and your family are living through in this season.  Or make yourself a bulleted list in your journal.  I think the number will amaze you. 

Here are some of mine: end of summer, beginning of school, leaving a project I worked on for two years, shifting work schedule, and our last teen starting their senior year.  Just to name a few. 

What are yours?  What are your teen’s? 

I really do think it helps if we “name it to tame it” as Dr. Dan Siegel says.  When you’re frustrated at your teen’s behavior or confused about why they’re spending all their time in the virtual world or on social media or in their room, take a moment to reflect to them all the transition they have going on.  It may help you (and them) have some appreciation for the uniqueness of this season and these transitions and appreciate the resilience we all have to live through change.

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2) Take it Day by Day

I knew things were getting bad for me when I started missing appointments (not therapy sessions mind you!). 

I would schedule coffee with someone and get the time wrong. 

I would show up late to a meeting, because I packed something else in before it. 

Things just kept slipping off my plate left and right.  I’m used to stacking things on my proverbial plate.  I’ve done it for a long time, and in the past it’s usually worked. 

Maybe it’s age, maybe it’s living through the pandemic, maybe it’s the heat, but in this season, I just can’t do it.  My brain feels foggy, and it’s like I’m moving through water. 

The trick for me is to be slow and steady.  I check all my calendars now before I schedule something.  I check my calendar in the morning, because some days I just can’t remember what I have scheduled. 

And I accept this season is what it is.  It’s a hurry up and wait situation.  Things are unfolding at their own pace, and I’m along for the ride.  So, I’m trying to sip some ice water and take things one day at a time, knowing, this time will pass…eventually.

3) Make Time for Fun

There are a million things on your to-do list. 

There’s so much to keep track of, organize, schedule, and plan. 

You may be needing to get things “back on track” at home by reminding your teen of what the expectations are, their boundaries, and holding them accountable. 

You may be supporting your teen in leveling up their skills around time management, decision making, or regulating their sleep. 

We always have opportunities for “correcting” our teen’s behavior.  My challenge to you today though, is to make sure you’re making time to connect. 

With my family, this requires intentionality.  Our teen and young adult both work, have friends, and lots going on.  So I put it on the calendar.  The invitation is there to join us for a meal, a game, a tv show.  Do they always join?  No, not always.  They have a life after all, and they’re working hard to separate from home.  Not an easy task.  When they do choose to participate, we goof off, have fun, and relax.  We don’t talk about tasks, we spend time connecting.  And it’s worth it, because just like the weather, this too is a short season. 

In Conclusion

The stress and the hurry and the pace of school year life with a teen will be there when you’re done. 

Let’s make space for play, for laughter, and joy. 

Let’s make time for connection and relationships.

It’s how I’m getting through this transition!  Maybe it will help y’all too.  And remember to breathe!  You got this.

Is your teen feeling extra anxious this season about a new school, a change at home, or getting older?  Would you like to support your teen in finding more confidence and joy from within?

If so, call me at (737) 808-4888 for a FREE 15 minute consultation or fill out this secure form to connect with me online.


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