08/05/2014 01:25 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

The Vital Component Often Missed When Heading Back to School

Thinkstock via Getty Images

Back to school season is around the corner, which means everyone needs to shake off the slow lifestyle of summer and get back in school mode. As a parent, your checklist might look something like:

1. School supplies
2. Books
3. Clothes
4. Locker decor
5. Dorm furnishings (depending on how old your child is)

But getting "Back to School ready" isn't only about new clothes and books. One widely missed preparation for kids of all ages is how to support your teen, tween or young child emotionally before heading back to school.

Going back to school is a huge transition for kids, mentally and emotionally. If they are entering a new school, whether that's middle school, high school, or college, it is an even bigger transition. They feel ripped from their worry-free summer lifestyles, put into new classes, different topics and teachers, and a slew of new pressures as their educational experience moves forward, whether they are ready for it or not.


I refer to this transition period as The Red Zone because it is a time of high anxiety and stress. How this transition period is handled can set the tone for your kid's entire school year. Books and clothes help kids feel back to school ready, but the big question is whether your child is prepared to enter The Red Zone, where intense emotions are running wild.

Research conducted by the American Psychological Association in 2013 found that stress levels reported in teens rival that of adults year-round.

Parents and teachers have long been concerned with dangers infiltrating our schools. In the 1980s the focus was on drugs, resulting in the D.A.R.E. campaign, and in the 1990s it was A.D.D. and overmedicating, then in the 2000's obesity, fought with healthier food and proper diet education. Today, what is permeating this generation is stress, which also has the ability to destruct their lives.

Just like any infiltration, we need an educational program to give our kids empowered tools to effectively handle the emotional overwhelm they are experiencing. Stress has many residual effects, particularly on young teens and tweens who don't understand their emotions. According to a study by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, 73% of teens believed that the main reason for drug use today is to deal with stress and pressures at school. Ironically, only 7% of the parents believed that teens would resort to drug use to deal with stress.


This is our wake-up call. Being reactive means waiting until there is a suicide attempt at your kids' school, a worsening drug problem or the need for greater security such as metal detectors, police officers and clear backpacks. As parents and educators, we share the responsibility to be pro-active in providing our children with the tools to address, process, and utilize their feelings to thrive. This leads us with thriving children, teachers, parents and schools.

We are raising a generation of chronically stressed kids. If your child is experiencing any of the following symptoms below, they are struggling with their feelings.

  • Emotional sensitivity
  • Anger outbursts
  • Stress/Anxiety/Pressure toward school/success/achievement
  • Struggles/conflicts with peers
  • Isolation
  • Low self-esteem, ie. feeling like they need to win, get straight A's, or have a special talent/trophy to demonstrate they are enough
The solution is Emotional Empowerment Education, or what I refer to as E3, a method to teach kids, tweens and teens how to use their feelings to effectively navigate their daily circumstances while remaining true to themselves.

Don't want until your child is thoroughly immersed in The Red Zone. Let's give our kids the tools to deal with the emotional overwhelm they are experiencing year-round at the onset of this new school year. Let's set our kids up for internal success by teaching them how to work with their negative feelings associated with stress in an empowered manner so their inner framework can actually support their external efforts. Without giving them the ability to address their emotional overwhelm in an empowered manner, all their internal energy is going toward trying to fight off or cope with what is internally weighing them down.

To find out more or to become an advocate to bring this message to your child's school or university, visit: