Written By: Kimberly Hansley
Going back to school, or starting school for the first time, can be an overwhelming time for children. They will have new teachers, new schedules, and new classmates. Many questions or worries may arise. What if my new teacher doesn’t like me? What if I don’t have any friends? What if I have to sit by someone I don’t like? What if the work is too hard? As parents, we don’t always know exactly how to respond in tough situations like these.
Here are a five tips to help alleviate any back to school fear and anxiety that your child may be facing.
Talk About It. Normalize It. Don’t Minimize It.
Everyone feels anxious at times. Telling your child “don’t worry about” can often make the child feel invalidated. Try listening and telling your child that you understand that school can make him/her anxious. Talk through the different scenarios that are worrying your child and also different strategies to help your child get through the day.
Get On A Schedule
It’s hard adjusting to school after having the summer off. To make the transition easier, begin to get on the new schedule prior to school starting. Begin transitioning your morning and bedtime routines a few weeks before school starts, and try to stick with it on the weekends. This way, the adjustment isn’t as difficult when school begins.
Make Sure Your Child Is Getting Enough Sleep
Sleep is essential for healthy brain functioning. It’s common for both kids and parents to feel restless the night before the first day of school. This is where having an established bedtime routine will help ensure your child is getting the rest they need. Making sure your child is getting enough sleep is key in managing nerves and anxiety.
Don’t Give In
Sometimes parents give in and don’t make their children do things that make them uncomfortable. Instead of giving in, encourage your child. Remind them that they will make it through the day and you will be there for them at the end of it. That evening, let them know how proud you are of them for facing their fears and completing the school day. Reward systems can be a great way to help your child accomplish their goals.
Model How To Handle Anxiety
The best way to help your children manage anxiety is by modeling it yourself. If your children see you handling with your own anxiety in a positive way and using the strategies you’ve talked about, they will be more likely to do the same.