School, Diabetes, and Stress

Dear Reader,

This is one of those all over posts. I ran across this article by Linda Dobson: School Induced Stress. It made me think of a few different things. Of my friends whose kids go to a “real” school (and these are mostly private, not public), it seems common that when they begin either K or 1st grade (especially if K was only half-day), that the parents report behavioral changes. For that matter I have heard similar things from those with kids in preschool or daycare. In either case there seems to be a period of weeks or months when the child seems stressed out in some way. It may come out as clinginess or an initial unwillingness to be left at the facility (especially for the littler ones in daycare). For the kindergarten age, it often comes out as bad behavior at home towards the parent. In almost all the cases I know of though, the problem seems to dissipate after a few months. The child stops doing whatever it was they were doing, the parent breathes a sigh of relief, and life goes on.

I have to say, though, that I have always wondered if the child really adjusts or if they just learn to keep it all in. Now I have never said this to any of my parent friends who have mentioned these problems to me. But I secretly wonder if the problem is really over or if it has just been pushed deeper into the little psyches. Mrs. Dobson’s article makes me think maybe I am not just a crazy, paranoid homeschooler for wondering these things.  

This will seem out of left field (bear with me; there will be a connection), but another thing I have wondered is what I would be like if I got enough sleep. You see, my 8yo dd has had type 1 diabetes for almost 7 years now (do the math there). We do a lot to take care of her including checking her blood sugar every night. That’s right, I do not sleep through the night and have not for 7 (or more since I had little ones before that) years. Some weeks there is a good stretch where I am up only once a night for multiple nights. But sometimes she has bad numbers and I am up more than once a night. That is when it starts to feel tough. Even at the best of times I can tell that it doesn’t take much, a little less sleep than normal or a minor cold or some-such to wipe me out completely. So while I think I feel okay most of the time, I can tell that the long-term albeit mostly mild sleep-deprivation is taking its toll on me. So I wonder sometimes, would I be a different person if I got enough sleep all the time? Would I have more energy, be less cranky, get sick less often, forget fewer things?

So the connection with the school stress issue is this: I don’t know how I would be if I had gotten enough sleep over the last 7 years. I am so immersed in the sleep-deprivation that I can’t even imagine what it would be like to get enough sleep regularly. And I wonder if it is the same for kids experiencing stress in school (or anyone in a stressful situation). Maybe that initial stress doesn’t go away; maybe they learn coping mechanisms but the stress is still there. And maybe what they become is completely different from what it would have been without that constant stress. How do we know if they are really doing okay or if they are living on the edge as  I feel I do sleep-wise? Or maybe I am just a paranoid homeschooler.



2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by grandma linda on October 22, 2010 at 3:16 pm

    You wrote: “But I secretly wonder if the problem is really over or if it has just been pushed deeper into the little psyches. Mrs. Dobson’s article makes me think maybe I am not just a crazy, paranoid homeschooler for wondering these things.”

    Thank you for thinking out loud. I’m certain we’re not the only ones contemplating this. We all need to keep sharing and talking about childhood stress, and I thank you for your great post on the topic.

    All best,
    Linda (Mrs.) Dobson


  2. Posted by Debra Elramey on October 24, 2010 at 5:25 am

    Nebby, thanks for this message. Some children definitely display the level of stress they suffer from an institutional setting. One year I put my child in a private school and the level of stress was obvious within days. You can read more on my blog.
    Pure and Simple: Forgetting How to Skip



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