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Back to school…acknowledging the range of feelings.

August 25th, 2011

While reading the Empty Nest posts I became consciously aware that my own children (14, 11, 7) had just emptied out their new back packs filled with school supplies (all over my kitchen floor) for the 10th time (ok maybe only the 2nd but ALL those supplies sure made it seem like 10!). I sat and listened to their bubbling conversations, their arguing over who’s folder was purple and whether the pencils should go in the supply box or front pocket of the backpack. Such excitement, such energy. 

And then in the next moment my 7 year old remembered that she would be starting at a new school, and she began to wonder aloud if her teacher would know that she was new and would the teacher help her to find her new locker? or would the teacher tell her where lunch bag? Such nervousness, such anxiety 

I wondered how to help her with that whole range of emotions in a single instant? All of the feelings rwere eal and important to my daughter. I may be comfortable with the knowledge that her teacher will ‘have it under control and know what to do, but how was I going to convince my daughter? 

The first step is to acknowledge ALL of her feelings. I can’t acknowledge some and disregard the others. Asking her to tell me more about what else she ‘wonders’ about her new school, new teacher, new classmates. Her seemingly innocent phrases out of the blue about her anxieties should be listened to and talked about. This is how she works through the dilemma in her head. Random questions. Disconnected thoughts. Brief phrases. I need to follow along with her train of thought and talk with her when she is ready to talk about them. 

Sometimes those thoughts are about excitement and other times they are about fears. No matter where here feelings are for the moment taking the time to share in their ‘real-ness’ shows her that I am along with her for the ride and will help her navigate the waters. 

Encouragement for the journey, Lori.

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