The going-back-to-school blues

Posted by David Beard, Globe Staff  September 4, 2008 06:54 AM

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The following is from a readers chat with Child Caring writer Barbara Meltz:

Question: My son has been very difficult to handle at home ever since starting back to school (first grade) last week. His teacher says he is wonderful in class, but he is torturing his two little brothers (and me) the moment he gets home. Any advice?

Barbara Meltz: First grade blues, he's holding himself together at school and falling apart at home because home is where he feels safest. This will likely pass as he gets more comfortable (did you know that first grade is the most stressful of all the years for kids?), but meanwhile, what he needs at home is the same consistency and limit-setting as always.

If he's nasty to a sib, let him know, "That's not OK." You might also try to have some kind of new routine for when he comes home that enables him to get rid of his frustration and energy (or whatever) in a safe way, for instance, stopping at the playground, or having outside time immediately when he gets home.

Also, give him some alone time with you, even if it's just a few minutes; that may help him reconnect. And also ask him some open-ended questions: what's your favorite part of first-grade? What your worst part? Also ask him to draw a picture for you about firste grade, and get him to tell you a story about it.

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About the author

Barbara F. Meltz is a freelance writer, parenting consultant, and author of "Put Yourself in Their Shoes: Understanding How Your Children See the World." She won several awards for her weekly "Child Caring" column in the Globe, including the 2008 American Psychological Association Print Excellence award. Barbara is available as a speaker for parent groups.

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