Start transitioning back to school schedules now

  • Monday, July 29, 2013

Dear Liz,

What can you do about neighbors who leave a barking dog when they go out late at night — which keeps our family awake in the adjoining condo we rent?

We not only feel bad about ourselves, but feel bad for the dog.

We recently moved in and don’t want to cause bad feelings with the neighbors.

Doggie nightmare

Dear “Nightmare,”

Sleep is the number one stabilizing force for our overall well-being and sanity. This must be addressed.

You are kind to care about the obviously stressed pup next door as well. A nice way to approach it is to meet with the neighbors (in a common area if possible) and nicely says something like, “I’m afraid you are not aware that your dog barks the whole time you are gone. It’s so bad, it keeps us for getting sleep.”

If they are nice and responsible they will get their dog a “thunder shirt” (which soothes scared dogs, especially during storms), play soothing music or TV along with locking the dog in the farthest room from your common wall and even seeking medical help from their vet. If you run into defensiveness — excuse yourself. You may need the help of your complex officials or even the local police — there is a nuisance dog ordinance in Mount Pleasant, if I am not mistaken.

And then, there are well fitting ear plugs and white noise machines. I wish you well, and a good night’s sleep soon.

Dear Liz,

Is it time to start adjusting children’s schedule as far as bedtime and waking back to school time? I always wait too late with horrible outcomes and a rough readjustment.

Dreading the wake up blues

Dear “Dreading,”

Good thinking. Many people are still vacationing, but it is always wise to start to readjust early.

The best way to accomplish this is a 10-20 minute adjustment each day, both for bedtime and wake up time.

I avoid making it “pressure” about upcoming school — some children will fight that or may become anxious unnecessarily.

You can explain that you are trying to help them slowly adjust their internal clocks to make it easy for them when school starts.

It is also helpful to make sure summer reading is being completed along with any other assignments your children may have. It is also time to start school supply shopping, which may be a good way to kick off the efforts. (Do wait for the proper supply list.)

A good nighttime plan is always good — make sure each child has a peaceful wind-down routine, which is pleasant for you both. If children/teens don’t wake up easily, it means they went to sleep too late. Plain and simple. Selecting clothing, packing book-bags and getting papers signed should all be done the night before.

Enjoy the rest of the summer, but it is never too early to get your children into healthy habits.

Contact Liz via asksharpliz@gmail.com. Liz Brisacher Sharp is a Master degree level Licensed Professional Counselor in private practice with 35 years experience in mental health.

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