From our Counseling Department
There are many practical strategies you can use to help ease your child’s back-to-school nerves. Remember coping with nervousness about transition is a learning process. You are helping your child to promote resilience by learning to manage their anxiety.
Talk about school. Your child might have worries about returning to school. You can help your child manage their worries by talking about what their daily routine will look like. Discuss the changes from summer to school routines. Talk about what morning and bedtime will look like during the school year. Talk with your child about changes in routines. Helping children imagine what will be expected of them and providing them with simple, easy steps helps children cope.
Start new sleep routines at least a week before school starts. This is especially important for small children. Set a reasonable bedtime so that they’ll be rested and ready to learn in the morning. Routines are important for kids because they know what to expect. Help them adapt to new routines. For example, you can show them the route they’ll take to go to school.
Validate your child’s feelings. Let her know that nervousness about the start of school is normal. The knowledge that she is not alone in this experience will help her. Sometimes reassurances such as, “It will be fine” can make some children feel even more anxious. Listen to your child’s worries and help them problem solve. For example, if your child is worried about remembering a locker combination, practice at home.
Involve your child in decisions when possible, such as whether to take a packed lunch or school lunch. Allowing your child to help make some decisions can help him feel like he has more control over new, stressful situations.
Model positive coping skills by managing your own stress. Children watch their parents. If you appear overly anxious about it, your child will pick up on it and it may contribute to her own anxiety about going back to school.
Look at the positives together. Talk about some of what he enjoyed over summer break. Also talk about some of the things that you and he are looking forward to when school starts. Do your best to show your excitement about the change. When children feel excited, they are more able to adapt to new tasks and challenges. An activity such as a fun back to school shopping trip where your child can choose some of her supplies or a new outfit can be a great way to help her feel positive. Focusing on some of the positive aspects of returning to school can help her to overcome some of her worries.
Remember, some anxiety about this transition is absolutely normal. Talk with a healthcare professional for additional support if your child’s symptoms of anxiety are severe or persistent.