Five Easy Steps to Help Your Child Manage Back-to-school Stress

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More Than a Quarter of Teens Say They Experience "Extreme Stress" During the School Year - Living Source LLC

Support Your Emotionally Overwhelmed Child, Tween, or Teen

The more kids learn that their negative feelings are present for a reason, the more they’ll be able to shift their viewpoint from fear to taking empowered action.

Parents and kids across the nation are getting back-to-school ready. While the transition from summer months means buying textbooks and arranging after school care, there is an important element that is often a forgotten part of the annual re-commitment to your child’s education; their mental health.

According to the American Psychological Association, 27% of students say they experience "extreme stress" during the school year. Nearly half (45%) say they are stressed by school pressures. The study, Stress in America™, not only shows that teens report high stress levels during the school year, but that teen stress tops that of adults.

Michelle Bersell, a psychotherapist and expert in the field of child consulting, believes that we are raising a generation of chronically stressed children. At the core of their stress is a lack of understanding about how to address their negative feelings. Bersell works with parents, educators and kids to understand how to utilize their emotions in an empowering way, and has formulated five easy steps to help your kids manage back-to-school stress:

1. Ease the Transition: Don’t overwhelm your child’s schedule all at once; use the first couple of weeks to keep it simplified. As you add activities, watch what happens to your child’s response to stress. Assess how they are coping with a fuller schedule and ask how they are doing.

2. Take Note of “Sideways” Emotional Responses: Take notice if you child seems to be more sensitive, emotional, or short-tempered as they start back to school. These are signals your child is emotionally overwhelmed and aren’t sure how to process their feelings in a healthy way.

3. Time Emotional Conversations: Parents often complain about getting one word responses, such as “Good,” or “Okay” from their child about their day. One main reason for kids' short responses is timing. Pick a time to talk to them when they are less likely to be distracted with their own needs or concerns, such as bedtime. Then ask questions about how they felt about certain aspects of their day.

4. Normalize & Support Negative Feelings: When your child does admit to feeling upset, explain that their feelings are normal. If possible, share a time when you felt similarly and how the situation worked out in the end.  

5. Emphasize the Importance of Their Feelings: Help them learn to honor their feelings rather than hide from them. Reiterate the importance of sharing their feelings. The bottom line is the more they share, the more you can support them to recognize and overcome their fears through taking empowered actions.

“The k-12 educational landscape is vastly different today than generations before. Our kids are genuinely stressed, confused and terrified; they face higher national education standards, measure their self-worth through social media and enter schools through metal detectors. To make matters worse, many stressed teens and tweens turn to unhealthy outlets, such as video games, drugs and violence as a release.

“These five steps will help you to gauge your kids stress levels and help them to overcome the fear underneath what they are feeling. The more kids learn that their negative feelings are present for a reason, the more they’ll be able to shift their viewpoint from fear to taking empowered action. Use a time when your child is relaxed to explain to them how to cope with the emotions underneath their stress, difficult situations, or workload, in a healthy way,” said Michelle Bersell.

Michelle has paired with the Community Resiliency Institute, a non-profit organization, to give children and teens the tools necessary to address emotional overwhelm and stress and is actively reaching out to PTO’s, schools and local communities to help them understand how to tackle this problem. To join the conversation, tweet #stressredefined.

To find out more about Bersell as well as her programs, coaching, training, or speaking opportunities, visit

About Michelle Bersell
Michelle Bersell, M.A., M. Ed., is a psychotherapist and mother of three, who has dedicated her life to the emotional empowerment of women and children. Michelle is a thought leader in emotional empowerment who challenges common thought and understanding regarding emotional well-being. Combining her innovative ideas along with her training in clinical psychology and education, Bersell is transforming the way people think and feel across the globe and within every generation.

Bersell has contributed to Women’s World magazine, Parents magazine, and Fox Television. She is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post and is the author of two books; F.E.E.L.: Turn Your Negative Feelings Into Your Greatest Allies, and Emotional Abundance: Become Empowered.

For more information:
Jessica Fontaine
Cadogan Consulting Group
561 797 5181

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Michelle Bersell
Living Source LLC
+1 (414) 736-5428
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Jessica Fontaine
Cadogan Consulting Group
561 797 5181
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since: 08/2009
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