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Start Up Stress

August 7, 2018

Is it me, or does it seem like we have three new starts to every year?  One happens on January 1st, another sometime in Spring and the last one in late August or early September.  I love the fall, but it is also stressful.  A new school year, new football season and new cycle of activities starting up is all pretty exciting.  But, every group also has their kick-off or welcome back meeting in September, which can get overwhelming.

Speaking of overwhelming, a new school year can be just that for children of any age.  In the business world, we call it “start up stress”.  It’s that feeling of a thousand new variables hitting you at once.  In the midst of the onslaught, there is a nagging fear of “is this ever going to get any easier?”  The good news is that it usually does get easier, but sometimes adjustments are necessary.

Parents, you can play a key role in lessening the “start up stress” for your children.  When do kids feel the most stress?  Simple, when their routines are significantly changed.  Here are some of the biggest stressors:

1.   Changing schools

2.  A difficult teacher or set of teachers

3.  A new morning routine (including new walking/riding buddies in the morning)

4. A new challenging sport/activity

5. A new set of friends ( especially in the lunchroom)

Parents, your attack on the “start up” stress needs to come on two fronts.  The main front is informally talking with your kids and giving them perspective.  Let them know that things will not always be as difficult at they are in the beginning. Small encouraging bedside conversations, ice cream dates and lunch box notes are all helpful.  Last week, I slipped two notes into my sophomore son’s book bag, which I think he really appreciated.

The second front is a more formal front.  Push yourself and get to the Open House night and the Curriculum night and the coaches meeting.  Knowing more clearly what your children are experiencing is key to helping them.  If after a couple of weeks, the stress does not appear to be subsiding, it is perhaps time to take more decisive action.  After watching our Shaan struggle with 3+ hours of homework every night plus playing football, we made a minor change to his schedule to include a study hall rather than an elective class.  He feels better already.  Kids just want to know that you care and are with them in their struggles.

Start up stress is normal, but when Mom or Dad is there to intervene, things somehow feel a lot better.

Patrick Donohue is a Life Coach in Oak Park, IL.  Contact him at

2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 3, 2011 9:47 am

    My problem is that my boys seem to handle this better than I do!

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