Back to School: Safe Place to Land

Back to School: Safe Place to Land

Back-to-school season is upon us. Some children are already back to school and some are preparing for this adventure to begin! This can be a huge adjustment for our precious little ones. Often our little, and not-so-little, ones do not have the words to express their worries, questions, fears or excitement. This is where the safe place to let things out comes in.

How can you help if they do not tell you what they need?

Let’s put this in perspective. You have just started a new job. Imagine all the emotions you go through. It is hard for you to pinpoint what exactly is causing you angst but you can at least state “I am nervous”. Then you start to verbally unload on a friend or family member. After that conversation, you feel so much better.

Children are famous for acting out their feelings as opposed to talking. The first weeks back to school, I would recommend that you are prepared for many different emotional outbursts to happen. Know that these emotional responses are your child’s way of dealing with the changes. They have absolutely nothing to do with you!

Your child may seem absolutely fine when they get home, then all of a sudden they are freaking out because their sibling touched them him or the couch is not comfortable or ……(you get the point). Just know that this is to be expected. Being the safe place for your child to unload emotionally will benefit them in the long run.

Does this mean that you can’t explain that the outbursts are not acceptable??

No. It means that you can help your child learn that they are reacting to things instead of dealing with their emotions from the day. It is the whole concept of being “proactive instead of reactive”.

One of the most helpful things that I have found is to ask the question “I am wondering if…”. I will often state “I am wondering if you are tired or hungry”. Also, labeling what you see is important. “Man I am noticing that when you get home from school you get angry”.

How can you help your child cope with all this emotion?
  1. If your child is one that loves hugs, meet them with open arms!
  2. Have a snack prepared so your child does not get “hangry”.
  3. Plan a low-key evening for the first few weeks.
  4. Put your phone or other electronics away and give your child your attention.
  5. Engage in some fun play or roughhousing. Laughter can be just as therapeutic as crying.
  6. Let your child guide his play with you for about 10 to 15 minutes. Child Directed play rocks!


I encourage you to be your child’s safe place to land at the end of the day! Slowly over time, you will see a major reduction in your child’s emotional reactions. This will be your cue that your child is beginning to adjust to the new grade. If the behaviour does not change then I would recommend reaching out for additional supports.

Back to School Sleep Tip

Back to School Sleep Tip

It is that time of the year where our little ones are preparing to go to school or go back to school. The first thing I get a number of questions about is how to get your child prepared to get the amount of sleep he needs each night.

When summer hits we often fall off our routines. This is pretty common and honestly, it is to be expected. If you child is going to bed later and waking up later than he needs for school you can help him get back on track.

Where do you start?

The first thing that I recommend that you do is to figure out what time your child needs to be going to bed to get the recommended amount of sleep that he needs.

Here is a link that can help you figure out how much sleep your child needs Recommended Hours of Sleep. Keep in mind your child may need more or less sleep than a child that is the same age as your child. So trust your gut instincts on the exact amount of sleep that is best for your child.

Keep in mind your child may need more or less sleep than a child that is the same age as your child. So trust your gut instincts on the exact amount of sleep that is best for your child.

Now What?

Now you know how much time your child should be sleeping so the next thing to look at is what time does your child have to be awake to get where they need to be in a timely fashion without you having to rush them out the door (stay tuned for a post about how to get them out the door with your patience and hair intact).

Let us say for example you need to be out the door by 8:00 am so you decide that 7:00 am is a good time for your child to get up.

Currently, your child is getting up around 9:00 am. There are 2 ways you can approach this change:

Cold Turkey:

The weekend before school you can just cold turkey wake your child up at 7:00 am and start your day. I do recommend giving him a few days to adjust before going to school which is why I recommend starting on the weekend. Then have bedtime at the time you figure he needs to be able to get proper rest.


Right about now you can start waking your child up 15 minutes before he usually wakes up. Bedtime will be 15 minutes before he usually goes to sleep. Then every 3 to 4 days, change wake-up and bedtime by 15 minutes. Continue this approach until you reach the desired times.

Be prepared for some protest from your child. Reminding your child that you are doing this to help him get ready for school can have a positive effect on the push back you may receive.

Have fun preparing for back to school!





Off To School They Go!

Off To School They Go!

This time of year usually means that most children over the age of 3 are embarking on a new adventure. Often a 3 or 4-year-old is off to preschool for at least two days a week.  Children that are 5 and up are usually gearing up to start school.  We start school after Labour Day.  Some families have started and others will be embarking on this adventure in the next few days.

This means that as parents we are trying to best prepare our children for a smooth transition to this next part of the year. This can be exciting and stressful all at the same time. are some basic things that can help make this an exciting time:

1.  Start talking about it now.
    • If you have not started talking about the new school year this is a great time to get the children geared up.  Try to stay focused on the positives (making new friends and learning new things).
2.  Validate their feelings.
    • If they are excited; but, you are nervous to see them off to school stay focused on their feelings.  Be excited (“Fake it to Make it”) for them.  Validate your feelings with other adults.
    • If they are nervous let them talk it out.  It is important not to say “You have nothing to be nervous about?’.  Instead try asking “What is making you nervous”, “What scares you?” and for the really young ones try asking “What is making your body feel scared or nervous?” and then problem solve  with them.  Give them ways to deal with their concerns.  Click here for tips on how to deal with separation anxiety.
3.  Getting their sleep patterns on track.
    • Start moving their bedtime in 15-minute increments every few days until they get to the right time.
    • You can use the same stately for the early morning wake up.  Either set an alarm for your child or start waking them up 15-minutes sooner than usual.  For teens, you may have to speed up the process a bit so I would suggest doing this in 30-minute increments.
4.  Returning to or developing structure and routine.
    • Developing a Routine that works for your family may take a bit of time.  You may discover that the routine you have set up does to work for your spouse or child.  To avoid this it can be helpful to sit down a discuss the things that need to be done and together you can come up with a plan that works.
    • Posting a list of the routine helps.  For younger children, pictures work well.  The lists can prevent you from feeling like a nag.  The child can be reminded of their chart and hopefully, they will follow it.
    • Here is a previous blog post that discusses the reasons routines are a good thing in my humble opinion.
5.  Involving the children in the preparation.
    • Insert sigh or panic here!
    • On a more serious note by involving your child in picking out the supplies and clothes (if needed) you may see their enthusiasm for school increase.  The reason is that they cannot control the fact they have to go school but they can control what they bring with them or where.
    • In addition to the supplies and clothes that may be needed, it is time to get the cupboard, freezer, or fridge filled with school snacks.  If you are at a loss for what to send hit Pinterest!!

Now I am off to bake some cupcakes (with my son) so my son’s teacher can put them in the freezer for special occasions.

Feel free to contact me by email ([email protected]) to set up a phone consultation if you would like more tips to make the transition to school a positive one.

Bye for now!

Back to Routine: Is It a Good Thing or Not?

Back to Routine: Is It a Good Thing or Not?

“It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!” Thanks to a certain office supply store, this song repeats in my head every year at back to school time. I love the song but I am not so sure it is true. If you talk to my 13-year-old stepson he will tell you that school is okay but he enjoys his unscheduled summer.

This time of year is filled with back to school shopping, going back to school, early morning wake ups, lunch prep, homework, and the never ending extra-curricular activities. Insert a big sigh…

That was my glass is half empty approach! People that know me well know that I am a glass is half full kinda girl.

The things I like about this time of year are as follows:  I know when I need to do school pick up;  when I get to cheer on my boys at basketball; when we do toddler friendly dance and gymnastics; when I have time to spare; and when I need to get ready to pull out my hair.

Children crave and require predictability and routine.  Visual schedules and calendars with lists of activities are helpful.  Do not forget to schedule some down time and time to explore with their imaginations.  I have observed that children that know what is going to happen next are less anxious.  A very good example of routine and schedules would be bedtime!

A bedtime routine should be no more than 45 minutes in duration.  A typical bedtime is as follows:

  1. Snack
  2. Bath
  3. Brush teeth
  4. Read Books (no more than 3)
  5. In bed
  6. Lights out

I believe that predictable routines and schedules make life as a parent so much easier!!  Visual schedules (lists of words and pictures) are great for toddlers, preschoolers, and school-aged children.  When you include your child in making the schedules they seem to follow them with more zest. Children love pictures!  Schedules with pictures and words serve a double purpose (just do not tell your kids!).  These schedules can help keep children on task and they teach word recognition!  Have fun making your visuals!

Schedules and routines rock!

Take care and happy sleeping,