Member question: The transition to school is really tough for my son this year. He has been ok while he is there but when he his home – he is miserable. Saying how much he hates school and doesn’t have friends. He is whining, crying, and fighting with everyone at home. How do I make this transition smoother for him? It has been less than fun. We are all adjusting and I feel like he is taking so much of our energy. I feel badly for my daughter too.

Rachel’s response: Here’s how I’d handle it: I’d tell him that he’s allow to have at least one “complaint party” each day where he can tell you EVERYTHING that he hated about his day. Tell him to make the details JUICY and that he can be really expressive when he tells you. When he’s doing this, try to really listen and get into his world with him.

Tell him that after the “complaint party” you want to do a “solution -storm” (like a brainstorm for solutions) where he gets to choose one thing about the day and you’re going to brainstorm solutions for how he can handle that problem when he’s faced with it the next day. It’s key not to jump into solutions too quickly though… When he’s in Yuck, he’ll tell you that there are no solutions!

The key is to balance respect with firmness.
Respect: He does need to release that Yuck. Often we try to make kids think more positively but they really can’t until they get it out… we’re the same way as adults! We don’t want to think positively when we feel that something stinks. AND if you know when the Yuck dump is coming, you can prepare yourself (and your daughter) for it.

Firmness: He needs to know that his Yuck can’t control him (or the family) and that finding solutions is important if he wants to feel better about school.