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College of Human Ecology

Tips for parents: Trim back-to-school stress

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

MANHATTAN, Kan. - Your child´s class schedule isn´t likely to list "Stress," but it´s there, said Charlotte Shoup Olsen, Kansas State University Research and Extension family systems specialist.

A new school year typically includes advancement to the next grade and a new class schedule. For many, it also may include a new teacher, new building, new classroom, new classmates, a new locker and a new lunch hour.

In Greensburg, Kan., this year, students also will be asked to adjust to temporary quarters while plans for a new school are in the works. Those students will likely miss classmates whose families have re-located to other communities, Olsen said.

Children who have with one or both parents deployed will be naturally anxious about the absent parent or parents, yet, also concerned about the at-home parent now trying to fulfill a dual role, she said.

At the first sign of stress, Olsen advised slowing down. Signs of stress may include a short temper; fatigue; letting things pile up; overeating or not eating enough.

"Take time for yourself and take stock," said the specialist, who offered these tips:

* Maintain a family calendar, and place it where it can be easily viewed so that everyone can be accounted for.

* Plan to eat together. Turn off the radio and television, and talk with, rather than to, each other. Reserve touchy topics for later, when you can focus on them with the people involved.

* Accept help, but try also to help others when you sense their needs.

* Set aside down time for each individual and the family as a unit.

"Make downtime a priority to ease personal stress as well as the collective stress in a family," Olsen said. "Support for each other in good times and bad, nurtures the family by giving each member a strong home base."

More information on managing family relationships is available at county and district K-State Research and Extension offices and on the Extension Web site: www.oznet.ksu.edu.

This article was posted on Tuesday, August 21, 2007, and is filed under College News, Family Studies & Human Services.