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September 25, 2017

How Parents Can Keep Their Cool During the School Year

Transitioning back to school can be bumpy. Early mornings, homework, tests, and overwhelming schedules can make any parent stress out. Children with giftedness or ADHD can be even more challenging due to executive functioning difficulties and intensities.
Fortunately, simple neuroscientifically informed parenting hacks can help you keep cool this school year.
  1. Get enough good quality sleep
Lack of sleep leads to anxiety, lower IQs, and increased risk of addiction. So sleep is a top priority for kids. Here are your goals:
  • Get 7-9 hours of sleep each night (not including time trying to go to sleep)
  • Create a consistent bedtime on weeknights and weekends
  • Fall asleep within 10 minutes of laying down without worry or fear
  • Stay asleep without phone alerts or other distractions waking you
Need help? Set an alarm at night to start the bedtime routine. Dim lights, minimize screens and don’t watch anything that is stressful like the news or dramatic TV. Take a hot shower or bath at night to increase melatonin and help with sleep onset. If kids are fearful of the dark or can’t stop anxious thoughts, don’t tell them they shouldn’t be afraid. Talk with them about their fears and ease their worry. If talking doesn’t work, try using TouchPoints™ for sleep 15 minutes before bed. Sleep still not happening? Treatments like Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), or Neurofeedback can create lasting changes in the brain to improve sleep.
  1. Create structure and make things fun
Use alarms for more than waking up. Avoid the morning stress by setting alarms for when the kids should be dressed, and 5 minutes before they leave. Get out of the habit of rushing and create peaceful mornings.
Kids distracted even though you’re keeping time? Use a fun incentive to get them to do what you want and put it in the place you want them to be. “John, there’s a token in the car for you if you get your backpack on and seatbelt buckled before I get there.” Tokens can be traded for small rewards at a later time. Don’t create a complicated chart or give kids the same reward every time.  Rewards should be spontaneous and varied to work.
  1. Minimize your own stress
We all know on airplanes if the oxygen mask drops, you put yours on first before you put it on your kids. Why? Because without you, nothing can happen for your kids. Prioritize your own health and well-being and recognize that you set the tone for the entire house. Still struggling? Don’t worry, there’s help. TouchPoints™ can be used for parents to ease general stress and for kids to minimize back to school stress.
Reach out to relevant support groups such as Arizona Association for Gifted and Talented, or The National Resource on ADHD, or seek professional consult from local parenting experts. Solutions are often easier than you think and there is a wealth of support available to you.
Written by: Dr. Amy Serin