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The Yellow Container: Partnering with your children to handle back-to-school stress

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It’s back-to-school time at TFI Talks, and to highlight this time of year our expert therapists are telling their own first-day-of-school stories, and at the same time providing insights into how families, parents and individuals can handle back-to-school stress.

Today’s story comes from Family Institute staff therapist Lisa Gordon, PhD. Lisa treats individuals, couples and families, and is a frequent presenter on parenting topics.



schoolbus-81717_150When our oldest son was in first grade, he needed to start taking the bus to school for the first time.  My husband had previously driven him to school, and the short drive for father and son was a sweet way to start the morning. 

My son opposed taking the bus, as my husband’s plush car filled with Laurie Berkner tunes far outshone the yellow metal container resounding with boy boasts and body odor.  I decided to ask my son what he needed to make the bus ride to school more tolerable — how could I help him weather this new mode of transportation? — prepared for my son’s potential response of “Five dollars.  Five dollars per every bus ride would really bolster my ability to ride the bus.”

I still risked the question. My son replied, “It would really help me if you wrote me a note each morning, and I could read it on the bus ride to school.” 

So one written note each morning could simultaneously ease my son’s bus ride, practice his reading, and provide him with one extra dose of love and pride from his mother?  I felt like I had just tried on my thin jeans and they fit! 

This story reminds me that (1) our children often know what they need to reach for new skills and growth, and (2) parents don’t need to have all of the answers themselves; sometimes children can partner with us to navigate a challenge. 


To read Lisa Gordon’s full bio or make an appointment, visit our website.

The Family Institute offers affordable, effective mental health treatment for individuals, couples and families at our six Chicagoland locations. Learn more about us at our website.

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