The Back to School Transition

Hello everyone!  I’m coach Sarah with Complete Performance Coaching.  Here we are, it’s August 19th. We are actually in our second week of school here where I am in northern California.  It’s been a while since I’ve done a Facebook live, but I thought this was a good time to get back in, introduce some new habits, and see you all again, especially at the beginning of the school year.  This is a good time to kind of check-in about some things, even if your athlete has not started school yet.

Getting Back into a Routine

The beginning of the school year is a big transition time for you, your athlete, and your whole family.  As you’re getting back into the school routine, even though you’ve gone through this before, going from summer back to school can be a tough challenge for not just your kids but for you, too.  In the summer there was probably lots of time in the gym like there is during the school year, but there’s also extra time, right?  There’s time to sleep in, let your kids hang out a bit more, they can see friends more freely, you may have even snuck in a trip or two.

Added Stress

So the summer is this wonderful time where things can be a little bit more relaxed, there’s not the same frenzy as there is during the school year, and it’s a really wonderful time.  Even though summer is only 10 weeks long, it goes fast and it’s really easy to get out of the groove of our normal day to day routine that happens the school year.  Because of that and because the beginning of the school year they could be new, this can also bring a lot of stress for our athletes, even our kids who seem low stress, this can be an amped-up stress time, and that’s important to remember.

There are new teachers, new kids, maybe they’re at a new school this year, whether it’s from a move or they went from being the biggest kid in the little pond to little kid in the big pond, this can be over overwhelming.  There will be lots of similarities – there’s still some of the same friends, they still might see their old teachers in the hallways, they still get out at the same time and end at same time; whatever the similarities are, we as people tend to focus on the differences and the unfamiliar, and that can be a bit overwhelming.

Stress May Cause Fear and Blocks

I bring this up because when things are stressful at school, that can cause fears or blocks to flare up in the gym, even when they’ve been under control.  If your athlete has been seeing progress, then this can stall the progress that they’ve had when they start experiences stress outside of the gym.  Even if they’re not experiencing school as super stressful, it’s just new and, and different and back to the routine, and that can affect what’s going on in the gym.

Don’t panic!  There are definitely things that you can do if your athlete is experiencing some beginning of school stress that’s affecting them negatively in the gym.

Watch for Signs

First of all, maybe nothing will happen in the gym.  Your athlete could feel stressed about school, nervous, or slightly overwhelmed, but the gym might be their safe place, so any progress that they’ve made, their fears, their locks they’re working through, you might not see any difference, and that’s fantastic.  I don’t think there’s a need to warn them or prepare them like, “Hey, school’s coming, so you might notice with your fears they kind of creep back up,” I don’t think you need to do that.  But if you notice that your athlete is starting to feel overwhelmed or nervous since the start of school and they’re showing signs of fear or blocks, stalling, worsening, or returning, then it’s a really good idea to check-in.  So again, your athlete might not experience this, but yeah, when we experience stress outside of the gym, it can trickle over, right?  Because they’re people, they’re humans and it’s not always easy to compartmentalize, and we shouldn’t always compartmentalize.

1. Normalize

What you can do if you see the stress affecting your athlete, normalize it.  If you notice that their fears or their blocks are coming back, they’re getting frustrated, saying, “Mom!  I was making so much progress and now I’m not.  I’m stuck on the low beam again and I didn’t go for today,” normalize it.  Let them know this is a normal thing.  When stress happens in one area of life, it can be easily spilled over into another.

2. Temporary

This brings me to point two – remind them that it’s temporary.  Both the stress of the start of the year and the fear that they’re experiencing, neither of them is permanent, though it can often feel very permanent and very [inaudible] overwhelming at the time.

3. Reminders

Number three, remind them they have skills to handle the situation and remind them of their progress with their fear or their blocks.  If they have been progressing, they’ve been using the mental skills we’re talking about, remind them of that and talk to them about the specific skills that have helped them make progress so they can return back to that.  Talk to them about that.  Ask questions like, “What did you learn in the PerformHappy Community?  What did you learn one-on-one with your coach that was helpful?”  Chances are, by going back to, by really relying on these skills in the gym, it’s going to help them continue to push through these blocks, but also talk to them about which of these ideas and skills can they use at school to help them manage their stress or their nerves because chances are the same ideas.

All of these things skills that we teach our athletes in the gym our life skills as well, and that’s why a lot of us like working with this age group of kids, teens, kids going to college because these are life skills that will help them in and out of the gym.

4. Minimize Stress

The fourth way to help them, if you notice that your athlete is having some beginning of school transition stress and it’s spilling over into the gym, help to minimize stress where you can.  If you know that the beginning of the year tends to cause nerves or you’re realizing it when school started last week, and everyone just seems kind off and overwhelmed, consider what you can be doing.  If you haven’t started school yet, if your child is feeling nervous, these might be things to file away for next year, or even the next couple of days, head to campus when no one else is there.  Give your child some time to get the lay of the land to figure out the walking path from one class to the next.  If you tend to do drop off, show them where you’ll drop them off.  Show how to walk to the class and walk with them.  You’re helping them get a  feel of that newness.

If you’ve started and it’s a struggle getting into certain routines, think about what you can do to make those routines a little bit more easy.  Again, if you haven’t started yet, but you know, homework tends to be a struggle, maybe you start out adding in some reading time every night to get them back into the routine to ease that.  So think about what you can do proactively if school hasn’t started, or if school has started, look at kind of what’s causing any extra stress and worry you might be able to help with that.

5. Ask for Help

Point five is don’t forget we’re here to help.  We love your athletes and we don’t want them to feel stressed.  They will because it’s life, but we want to help them with that.  This can be a really good time to check back in if you got out of the habit of coming into the community over the summer because the schedule was off.  Work on getting back into our live trainings, schedule a catch-up session one-on-one with your coach; if you’ve been with us before this is a really good time to get that support again.  You’re not alone in this.

Check on Your Stress

I want to wrap up today with, if the beginning of the year is causing you, mom or dad, stress, remember that your kids pick up on that, so consider what you can do to manage that.  For example, I have a second grader this year, and one of the things I wanted to do was to help him and I get more into his own routines so that I don’t have to micromanage him in the morning. That’s mostly for my own sanity, but it’s also a great life skill for him.  We created a timeline schedule of what he should be doing at different time points in the morning so that he’s on schedule for us to leave and ideally we’re not having this last-minute stress of backpacks not packed or shoes or not on.  So we have this schedule upstairs and downstairs in our house where we can review it, but we also got the Amazon Dot with Alexa.

We took advantage of the Amazon prime days and now we have dots throughout the house.  The one upstairs gives my son reminders for when he is allowed to watch a little TV in the morning, the one downstairs reminds him when to turn the tv off, when to get dressed, stuff like that.  That helps keep us on track in the morning and get out the door on time.  It’s helpful for me because I’m not watching the clock.  I can actually be getting lunch in the bags or getting myself ready and we’re not as stressed.

Be Proactive

So use technology to help you out, have your kids pack their lunches the night before if that’s their responsibility – really think of what you can do to minimize own stress because your kids will pick up on that.  I know I don’t like bugging them for every little thing, so it’s handy to the Alexa takes that on and give the gentle reminders, and I think so far my son likes that too.

So as you get situated into the new school year, remember that everyone handles this transition time differently, both your kids and you.  For some of our athletes, this is going to be a time where they feel a little more nervous, a little more stressful, overwhelmed, and this can spill over into the gym.  You might see flare-ups of their fears, their blocks, or maybe their progress starts to stall, but the good news is they can work through it.  Let us know if you do need some support on this because again, you’re not alone, they’re not alone, and we are here to help you.

If you have started the school year, I don’t know about you, but I’m very excited about it. If not yet, you’re almost there, so think of how you can best prepare your students and yourselves to minimize any stress, and I hope the beginning of the school year it goes well for you.  Thanks so much for joining.

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