Hey kid! Don’t freak out!

So, you’re sitting in class and your teacher is bugging you and your classmates are bugging you and when you get home your parents will be bugging you  and pretty much the whole darn world is bugging you. What to do? Well, I’ve been there and done that, about 40 years ago. I’ve cursed at teachers, torn up tests, told teachers they were stupid….

I haven’t figured everything out but one key is


Because freaking out very rarely helps anything.I don’t know how old you are, or what problems you’ve got, or where you are in school.  I’m sitting at my computer over here and you’re where … well, you’re wherever you are.

Since my worst years (full of the most freaking out) were in middle school and high school, I’ll guess you’re somewhere in there. I will try to avoid assuming more. But here’s some things you could try, both when you are about to freak out and before you are about to freak out.

When freaking out:

  • Take a breath. Corny, I know. But it works for lots of people. In fact, don’t just take a breath (you’re probably breathing, even when freaking out!) take a nice, long, slow breath. In, out. Then take another. Try a couple more. It won’t make your problem disappear, but it might calm you a little. Try it. If it doesn’t work, you’re no worse off.
  • Take a break outside. If it’s one teacher who, at the moment, is driving you up the wall, then try to take a break. Believe me, raising your hand and asking to go to the bathroom will get a better reaction than yelling and cursing at the teacher, punching anyone, screaming or, in general, freaking out. And if you get permission, then don’t freak out in the hallway or you won’t get permission next time.
  • Take a break inside the room. Whether this will work depends on the teacher. It might also depend on your IEP (if you have one) or deals you’ve made with teachers beforehand (see below). But in the right situation, raising your hand and saying “I’m having a really hard time right now, can I listen to music for 5 minutes?” is also going to get a better reaction than freaking out. Or, if you  don’t want to do that publicly, maybe you can go up to the teacher’s desk and ask (go up quietly, maybe even ask permission first, teachers like it when you ask permission).

Before freaking out:

The best way to deal with situations that make you freak out is to avoid them. Of course, you won’t be able to avoid them COMPLETELY, but you can do some.

  • Talk to the adults that you like and get advice from them. Come on, there have to be SOME adults you like (and who seem to get you). A teacher, a parent, a friend of a parent, the parent of friend, a therapist…. I am sitting way over here and you are over there. So, someone who knows you  will (probably) give better advice; certainly more specific advice.
  • Remember that the vast majority of teachers are NOT ought to get you or make you freak out. Sure, there are some teachers who are seriously screwy. But not that many. Some will understand you and some won’t. Some will deal with you well and some won’t. But very few are deliberately out to sabotage you. But teachers are human. And humans make mistakes. Try to help your teachers get you (and treasure the ones who do get you).
  • Work on time out schemes ahead of time. If you can, when you are calm, discuss your situation with a teacher, then that will probably work out best for everyone. But here’s a clue: Try to put it so it’s to their advantage to help you. E.g. “You know, sometimes I get really disruptive in class … I know it’s a problem. Here’s a way I think might help” will be better than some other things you could say.
  • Work on signals. Maybe there are ways you can signal your teacher (or parents) that something is going wrong. Or vice versa.

Well, there are some ideas. I’m sure you can come up with some of your own. And I’m sure you can get more help from others – just have to find the right others.

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