It doesn’t matter if you are the parent of a 1st grader or a 12th grader, by noon you are already aware that the teacher assignments are out. The phones are ringing off the hook and your kids are tapping away on ipods, cell phones, etc. The anxiety, the stress, it is all about who your kids got and who they are with. It can be exciting, distressing, and yes, even disappointing. The rumor mill is churning with bits and pieces about each class and of course each teacher. Be wary, while some of it is true, some of it may not be. Oh the stress that is often unnecessarily generated, and not just by the kids, but by the parents as well.
What can you do to head off the hysterics? Here are some thoughts:
1.) Don’t let yourself get sucked into the pandemonium and panic. Your kids look to you for guidance, support and reaction. Often they take your lead. While you may be excited to find out your kid’s teachers and classmates, calmly inquire. If your kids did not get the teachers you (or they) had hoped for, remain calm and positive. Whatever you do, do not start ranting on the phone to your friends. While your kids may be hard of hearing when it is time to take out the trash or clean their rooms, I can assure you their ears perk up when they overhear you talking about their business.
2.) Avoid responding to their disappointment with cliché talk. They are sure to turn off if you start with something like, “This is a good lesson, in life we do not always get what we want…” Do respond with consolation, “I’m sorry, I know you wanted Mrs. Minus for math….” Sometimes they just need to know that you understand.
3.) Don’t stress too much. Your kids are probably far more resilient than you give them credit for. That’s because you love them so much that you don’t want them to feel disappointed.This is okay, but if you present as too devastated or concerned, you may be inadvertently sending them the message that you don’t think they can manage. Remember, kids are egocentric (especially tweens and teens). And this isn’t about you anyway, it is about them!
4.) Even if their initial reaction is negative, give them a couple days. The more information they are able to collect about who their classmates will be, the less anxious most kids become.
5.) If your child continues to present as extremely overwhelmed and stressed, a good heart to heart is in order. Let your child know you are concerned. Sometimes kids become stressed about certain peers in their class. If your child has been bullied or teased by particular students, they may react with anxiety or dread if these brutes are in their class. Sometimes kids get stressed because they have heard negative information about a particular teacher. Regardless of the reason, work with your child to figure out a plan to help ease the stress and or feelings of doom or disaster. If your child is too overwhelmed, you should closely monitor the situation, You may want to seek assistance from a professional such as a guidance counselor or therapist.
Oh, and don’t worry, after your kids collect all the information about who has whom, they will be available to talk to you again.