Help Kids End The School Year Strong

May 31, 2023
Help Kids End The School Year Strong

As we get closer to the end of the school year — with extra activities and schedule changes — are you experiencing more behavior issues with your child?  

This is an issue that is coming up with a number of the families that I’m coaching.  Parents are showing up for coaching meetings in a bit of a panic because the outbursts are unpredictable and seem to be ramping up.  I had one mom reach out with a ‘911’ call because both of her boys have escalated and the slightest things are sending them both over the edge.  Things had been going well, and she was at a loss as to what happened and what to do.

When parents are in a panic, I always start by having them pause and put their hands on their heart.  Then I walk them through a few deep breaths, and have them imagine they are breathing in calm and breathing out the stress, fear, or anxiety.

I start there because when we’re in a panic, we’re in survival mode ourselves.  Our brain diverts energy to our bodies preparing for fight or flight — we can’t think clearly and we certainly can’t parent effectively.  Deep breaths send a signal to our bodies that we are safe which helps to calm our nervous system.  Putting our hand on our heart gets our body to release a dose of oxytocin, which is a feel-good hormone that lowers our stress response. 

I can’t stress enough the power of the breath as it is the one tool you have with you at any single moment in time.  This is the first tool that I teach parents to help themselves stay grounded and more effective, and I have them model and teach it to their kids.  Parents tell me they catch their 3 and 4 year olds with their eyes closed and hands on their heart, so trust they are watching you!

Once the parents are calmer themselves, then I talk about how behavior changes and outbursts are completely normal when kids' routines change or they have an upcoming transition like the end of the school year.  

I explain that “safety” is the biggest instinctual driver for all humans, and for kids that equates to predictability, routines, and control.  Changes to their routines, extra activities on their schedule, and upcoming transitions can trigger their nervous system, and make them feel and act out of control. 

When kids know what to expect they feel safer and their nervous system is calmer.  When they feel like they have some control over what’s happening in their lives, they act more in control.

So what do you do as a parent to help support your child through changes in their routine and upcoming transitions?  You help prepare them in advance as much as you can and you provide other opportunities for them to feel like they’re in control.

For the families I support whose kids are struggling this time of year, I recommend mapping out each week with a weekly calendar.  Make sure that any changes to routine are noted on the calendar, along with anything that needs to be done in advance so kids know what to expect throughout the week.

The changes in routine can also mean more work for parents to prepare.  So I recommend parents giving kids some responsibility for any needed preparations for special events or asking them to help with other jobs to keep things running smoothly during this busy time.  Having responsibilities for jobs and pitching-in to help keeps kids focused, and it gives them the sense of control that they need to calm their nervous system as they prepare for a transition.

By preparing kids in advance, giving them jobs and enrolling them in tasks to keep things running smoothly, you help them end the year strong and you keep your sanity as a parent!

If your kids are really struggling with big feelings, outbursts, and big behaviors that are creating a negative dynamic for your family and you don’t know what to do, I can help!  I specialize in helping parents navigate through big feelings and big behaviors.  Visit to find out how I work with parents and schedule a call to find out how I can help.

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