As summer activities are winding down, and the school supply lists are posted and mailed out, many children start to become anxious about re-starting school. Experiencing some level of anxiety is typical for kids, especially those who do not transition easily.
Rather than simply accepting back to school stress as part of “the process,” parents can mitigate their children’s anxiety in several ways.
- Get Organized Ahead of Time. Making sure that all school supplies are color-coded, labeled, and in your child’s backpack at least a week before the first day of school. Pick out that “first day of school outfit” ahead of time and set it aside. Having everything set and ready to go will give your child a sense of stability and should be a calming influence.
- Get Back Into the Routine. Don’t wait until the first day of school to implement that school year bedtime and wake-up routine. If your child’s sleep cycle in settled, your child will be more alert and less anxious. Re-start your school mealtime routine as well. Make sure that your child eats breakfast before school, as a well-balanced breakfast helps enhance the ability to focus.
- Discuss Concerns, Expectations, and Feelings. Keeping an open line of communication with your child helps him/her feel as if he/she has a safe place to fall. Children are often concerned about classroom dynamics and new, unfamiliar teachers. Make sure that your realizes that change can be positive. Don’t make promises and ensure that everything will be fine. Validate feelings, but let your child know that you are sure that he/she can handle it.
- Make Plans with Friends Before the School Year Starts. Seeing school friends can help children feel more comfortable entering the school building on the first day of classes.
- Don’t Overschedule. Many children feel anxiety when they know that they have to go from school to activity to activity to homework. Talk to your children to determine the best strategies and schedules for them. Start extra-curricular activities in October rather than the first week of school. Participating in fewer activities throughout the first few weeks of school gives many children the downtime they need to adjust to academic expectations.
- Be Positive. Children take cues from their parents. If you are enthusiastic, they will hopefully, eventually follow suit.
Ultimately, It is important for parents to recognize the difference between typical back to school stress and extreme anxiety. Some anxiety is typical, but parents should be concerned about symptoms that linger after the first few weeks of school or that seem out of character. In most cases, working with your child, you can make that transition from carefree summer fun to the school year responsibilities significantly easier and less stressful.
And, always remember, GAMECHANGER is here to help parents to connect their kids to confidence.