Back to school shivers


Just when parents shiver with excitement because school is back in session, a sneaky little thing happens. Normally happy children come home all droopy. Worn out is one thing, but what if kids get a little hostile, too? Smart parents immediately ask perceptive questions.

Are there any new friends at school you might enjoy getting to know this year? Who’s your favorite person in class so far? Is your math teacher patient? (Okay, maybe the math question is one my mom asked when I was a grumpy kid.)

Back-to-school is a stressful transition for families, especially when all we get from our kids is a shrug and a bad attitude.

We all have moments when we can’t speak clearly about the stress we feel. Transitions are never easy. We can help our kids overcome feelings of stress and dread with a fresh look at how fear affects us all.

Almost like having telepathy, knowing which fear response is typical for your child gives you parental super-powers. Most of us react to fear with freeze, flight, or fight responses. Maybe you’re not dealing with a bad attitude at all. Stress makes it difficult for anyone to cope.

#1 Freeze. The child who freezes whenever they feel threatened, may seem unable to answer the simplest question about their day. They may need to be greeted with cookies and milk, prayer, and a little brainstorming about wise options for tomorrow at school. That child may need reassurance that the parent is there to help them process. “We will figure this out together,” is one of our family’s favorite go-to encouragements.

#2 Flight. If fear and stress weigh down your child during the school day, the kid who tends to flee may retreat to their room to recharge. First, rather than labeling their need for retreat as withdrawing from the family, the wise parent gives the child a quiet time to process. Then, the parent steps in to engage and help the child.

#3 Fight. The child whose instincts kick into fight mode may need to have some boundaries laid down pretty quickly. Fighters desire to fix the problem immediately. In the case of a fighter, the parent must recognize that the child is misdirecting their hurt, anger, and fear at the parent. We may be tempted to get sucked into their immature drama. Yet, we are not the bad guy. In fact, we are our child’s greatest ally in the battle to find solutions. “When you are calmer, we can think about this together,” is a phrase that can establish healthy boundaries for respectful, collaborative discussion.

For more on how to beat the heck out of fear, go to my website and look for my video blogs on conquering fear in marriage. And, thanks for reading today.

Cathy Primer Krafve, aka Checklist Charlie, lives and writes with a Texas twang. Comments are invited at


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