School’s out for summer

It is usually the smallest thing that causes the biggest reaction, because we have gotten to the point where we just cannot take any more.

by Mary M. Ernsberger — 

“School’s out for summer. School’s out forever. School’s been blown to pieces.” When these lyrics were performed by Alice Cooper in 1972, school violence was a rare occurrence. The song continues with, “No more pencils. No more books. No more teacher’s dirty looks. Out for summer. Out ‘til fall. We might not come back at all.”

In 2002, Cooper rerecorded the song with a Swedish pop group called the A-Teens. One line in the song was changed. Instead of “School’s been blown to pieces,” the lyrics became “I’m bored to pieces.” As we prepare for summer 2007, what path do we see our children taking? Boredom can lead to dangerous places — physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

Each year, more and more children are diagnosed with psychological disorders. Take your pick from attention deficit disorder (ADD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), bipolar disorder, autism, Asperger syndrome, sudden infant death syndrome and central auditory processing disorder. The list goes on and on.

Why are these disorders so prevalent now? Are they truly diagnosable disorders or are they simply convenient explanations for why our children do not behave the way we did when we were their age?

Each of these disorders has a connection to a specific behavior, commonly interpreted as the way a child interacts with and reacts to other children or adults. So often, the allopathic answer is to put these children on psychotropic medications. However, this answer only creates additional problems: primarily, the inability to predict the effect these medications will have on the child’s physical and mental body, as well as potential long-term side effects.

Nearly every time we hear about another school violence incident, the perpetrators are teens or young adults with medical histories that include one or more of these disorders for which they have been prescribed one or more psychotropic medications. So how can you fix something that is not broken in the first place?

The answer lies with this generation’s “elders.” The amount of stress each elder experiences on a daily basis — related to work, bills, home, school and family — is enough to break anyone. It is usually the smallest thing that causes the biggest reaction, because we have gotten to the point where we just cannot take any more. A tiny incident magnifies to become the “straw that breaks the camel’s back.” As elders, many of us turn to medications to help us cope, but is this the example we want to set for the next generation?

Today’s children, teens and young adults also face an enormous amount of stress in their daily lives. Compounding this is the fact that they are extremely sensitive to the energy emitted by everyone around them, yet many do not even understand their intense array of feelings. Children must learn to surround themselves with a protective bubble to help alleviate these intense energetic reactions. If you are an empathic adult and find yourself reacting strongly to situations involving the people around you, you can seek out and surround yourself with the tools to create this self-protective shield.

The next time you ask a young person why they did something and they respond by saying, “I don’t know,” believe them. We all respond to situations based on the memories we access, consciously or subconsciously. Very young children are not capable of understanding the word “no.”

Take notice of how you feel inside before you react outside. Anger is both the polar opposite of love and a component of love. When we do not feel love, whether it is in the form of respect, understanding, recognition, compassion or forgiveness, we get angry. So do our children.

How we choose to express this anger is the primary issue. Have you learned to talk it out, or do you generally have a visible, visceral reaction? Your  ability to talk out your feelings is love in action. Falling back only on a physical response to a situation is the anger component, which in many instances leads to rage and violence.

First, teach yourself how to control your reactions, and then teach your children. Share your innermost feelings with them. This does not make you weak — it makes you human. Whether you are a parent, educator or elder, you do not have to present a rock-solid, invincible front to the world. By attempting that, you are only lying to them and to yourself, denying who you truly are. Children learn by example. What kind of example are you setting?

A number of alternatives may help you before you feel like reaching for that pill bottle. Join a health club or yoga class, try visualization or hypnotherapy, breathe, call a friend, try flower essences or aromatherapy, talk to your pet, sit under a tree, blow bubbles, hug your child, read a book or take a class. If you need help changing your pattern of reaction, find a competent therapist.

Take the time to discover where and when this behavior began so you can reframe your reaction. Express your love to the world and watch the world love you back.


Mary M. Ernsberger is the founder of the Learning Connection Holistic Center which provides specialized services in mind-body psychology, hypnotherapy/guided imagery, aromatherapy and life coaching for children and families. She is the author of Recognizing the Greatness in Each Child. or

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 26, Number 3, June/July 2007.

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