School stress: The real test at school

School stress: could staying yourself be the real test at school?

School stress: The real test at school

My son did really well at school this week. In fact, I can’t remember a week that felt so great. But it wasn’t about test results or getting his homework in on time. It wasn't that he had come top in his class ... or managed to pass a difficult subject. No, he managed a feat that in my eyes is greater and even more difficult to achieve than any of those ... he had got through the week and stayed himself – he hadn’t succumbed to school stress.

The lovely, naturally vibrant, connected person that left the house on Monday morning had returned the same on Friday afternoon. Wow, amazing! But this is not always the case.

We often take it for granted, accept that our kids will arrive home from school exhausted, cranky, stressed, needy, or a little out of sorts. Maybe we ourselves have had one of those days?

Staying ‘themselves’ at school is at times an almost impossible task for kids. But do we really think that this is okay? Can it be any different?

  • Do we accept daily stress as ‘the way things are’ – that this is the norm and in this, are we asking our kids to accept the same?
  • What sort of standards for life are we setting for ourselves and our kids if we let stress and tension reign unchecked?

Yes, things do happen in life that stress us out, stretch our patience, leave us feeling angry, upset and reactive. School and life is a huge learning ground where we are all trying to find our feet. A harmonious home life is a huge part of the picture – definitely, but not needing it to be perfect – as we learn from the ups and downs we have together.

Personally, as a mother I am learning that often saying less – and being steady myself – is more, and that allowing myself to see life more and more in its raw honesty helps me be more ’real’, understanding and wiser when dealing with situations.

It is important to observe and accept the reality of what we see around us whether it be damaging and hurtful, or inspiring and joyful. It is pointless and unreal to only see the world through rose coloured glasses. We must never accept the stress struggle as an only way of being or we normalise it as our way to live.

As we begin to discern and unravel love, life and relationships, we learn to express our feelings, start to take responsibility for our own behaviour and not blame others for our lot. We can accept that life does have struggles – but we are not those struggles.

We are absolutely capable of so much more. When we don’t settle for and accept what we feel is not right for us, the life we can truly have has a chance to constellate.

When we as adults stay steady, still and non-reactive, it is much easier for our kids to do the same.

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Raising kids is not about ticking boxes

Love is the key. It is never too late to raise your children with love.

Driving kids home from school in the car can be a lovely connecting experience; you can feel their bodies relax in your presence, dropping back into themselves, no need for protection, letting go of any tension:

  • The tension that is ready to pounce on everything you say as ‘wrong’! but is really saying, “Today has been hard work Dad, you have no idea what I have been through.”
  • The tension that says, “You sent me to school Mum, it’s payback time!” but is really saying, “I am hurting from what I experienced at school today.”

If we give our kids the space to be – not needing their day to have been perfect because we can’t bear seeing the hurt it causes, or because our own day has been filled to the brim – they have a chance to express their daily experiences as something that has happened to them, that allows them to observe and not identify the issue as who they are.

  • So often we ask our kids, “How was school today?” ... but do we really want to know?
  • So often the classic answer we get is, “Yeah, good.” ... but was it really?

Taking the time to connect to our kids without bombarding them with what we want for them in life, builds the bridge towards stress-free interactions that confirm them in a way that is so precious. It allows them to be themselves and express who they truly are.

There is a magical factor that just naturally happens when we allow ourselves to take the time to connect and relate harmoniously as human beings.

I know that a teacher taking the time to reach out and communicate with my son was part of his amazing week. It confirmed him in being himself at school. Essentially the most important factor for kids is: it’s okay to be themselves. In fact it is more than okay, it is the most beautiful thing they can do, the most beautiful gift they can bring.

Considering the current levels of stress at school and in life, this is the biggest test for our kids and we can support them by reflecting: 'I CAN just be who I am, that is all that is needed ... and it feels amazing!'

As we drove home from school on Friday afternoon I commented to my son how amazing he felt and how he had held himself all week ... he looked me straight in the eye and simply said in a quiet, natural way, “Yes, I have.” As far as I am concerned, that confirms a great week at school.

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  • By Jenny James, Singer/Songwriter