The back-to school season is well underway! Your older kids might not feel ready for the demands of school. Here’s a warning sign they might not be as happy as they seem. Your teen may refer to the “back-toschool necklace” when they hear or see it. It sounds sweet and innocent. You should be aware, however, that the Target jewelry aisle is not always as black-andwhite as it appears. This euphemism refers to stress at returning to school and is often associated with dark imagery. As your teen is trying on the 15th and 16th pairs of “perfect for school” jeans you might also ask about their opinions on a back–to-school necklace. You should be ready for more conversation than you might normally expect.
You probably picture a card with matching bracelets and necklaces to remind your child you have a back-to-school necklace. This is so heart warming. So innocent. But let’s be honest, Gen Z is much deeper than that. For even considering such things, they may call us “cheugy”.
What is a “back to school necklace.?
A back to school necklace” is a dark term for the anxiety of returning home and the new year’s pressures. It is literally an image of a noose around the neck. Seem alarmist? As if it were something that only Boomers fear? But think again. Urban Dictionary has caught on to this disturbing trend. They refer to “back-toschool necklace” as “another term for a noose.” This is because you feel utter despair when school begins to resume.
Is it really necessary to wear a “back-toschool necklace”?
If someone thinks about self-harming or suicide, they should be taken seriously and referred to a mental healthcare professional. If your teen or tween uses the term back to school necklace and you want to know their meaning, it is worth having a conversation.
Gen Z is dark and deep. They’ve lived nearly their entire life in a war zone. They’ve seen countless school shootings, and sometimes a lack of appropriate response from lawmakers and adults. They are constantly bombarded by images of civil unrest and police brutality. Even though a more experienced person might say that things have always been this bad, there is no doubt that Gen Z’ers are more exposed to it thanks to social media. The news is not something you can escape from like when you were a teenager. Our world is connected to all the news, the good and bad. The next generation of tweens, teenagers, and young adults is more aware of the morose than any generations before them.
For many children, the “back-to school necklace” might imply dread. That dread should be addressed. However, it might not always be a cry to help but a collection of slang that their peers have taught them.
How can you talk about back to school necklaces
Talking to your kids about serious matters is always difficult. Being a “geriatric-millennial” parent is more difficult than you might think. It can be hard to have serious conversations with your kid and not sound like a friend or parent. Your child will likely pull back if you approach things too seriously. It’s possible to wait for your child, but it’s better to be proactive than waiting. Take it slow. It is possible to start by casually saying “Hey! Have you heard about that?” I found something online that intrigued me.
While your teen or tween may answer your question with a squinty, it’s possible for them to say, “It isn’t that deep.” Many kids might not find it “that deep.” It’s something that you feel every day. You remember feeling it not too long ago. The phrasing may be dark but some kids might use it to make fun of the situation. They might think it’s a catchy, trendy way to say “I’m and not looking forward at our third year of French.”
Your relationship with your child will impact how you communicate with them. It’s okay to be casual with your Gen Z-er 95% of the day. If they don’t mind going out to Starbucks, you can ask them if the stress of back-to-school is getting to them. My first week back to school was always stressful when I was in high school. If they indicate they’re feeling it too, you can channel your inner-mom-from-an-after-school-special and say, “School can suck; I’m sorry. You can talk to me if you feel stressed. If it feels natural, you might mention “back-to school necklace” during your chat.
What are some warning signs parents need to be aware of?
Cavaleri explains that “if someone uses this phrase it’s a good sign they are struggling with mental health.” It doesn’t matter if your child is serious about suicide or they are using the phrase as a cry to help. Some signs you might see include being alone, acting out, crying often, acting withdrawn. They may also be displaying irritability, crying more often than usual, difficulty getting to sleep, spending too much time sleeping, losing interest, giving away their belongings, and overall a change in their behavior.
Cavaleri emphasizes that even if you don’t hear your child say this phrase, it might be something they use on the phone. She says, “They may use them via text or on social media platforms.” “Parents should be mindful of what their children are doing electronically. Any age student may use this phrase or feel these emotions, so be aware of signs in your children from young children to teens.
What should students know about using or hearing the phrase “back-to-school-necklace” with friends?
Cavaleri cautions that “students should know that using such a phrase is very serious.” “It’s not OK to laugh about your own harm and even death. Students should not be embarrassed to express these feelings. This phrase is something students should use with their friends, even if it’s not being used by them.
Westhouse also agrees that your child should be educated, and even if they are quick to ignore it, they should know that it is serious even if it seems like a joke. I encourage you and your child to educate their friend about this phrase. If they do, please address the matter with school staff.