Curbing back-to-school anxiety
Not wanting a long, fun summer to end is reason enough for some kids to dread the return to class, but for other children it’s the notion of starting a new grade or a new school that makes those butterflies in the stomach really start fluttering. Regardless of the reason for anxious tummies and worried faces, there are ways to help prep your children for going back to school that may make the transition easier for everyone.
9 Ways to Ease the Back-To-School Transition
- Encourage your child to share their fears with you. Sometimes giving voice to those hidden concerns can make them seem more manageable, particularly since your child will know they are not coping with their fears all alone anymore.
- Help your child come up with coping strategies. After they have shared their fears, help your child problem solve and plan. Offering reassurance is good, but brainstorming ways to help your child cope gives them the power they need to feel they have control over difficult situations.
- Encourage your child to face their fears. Show them that avoiding a situation that makes them nervous isn’t the answer by making them go to school. Letting them stay home will reinforce their fears and make it increasingly more difficult to encourage them to attend school.
- Experience school before it starts. If you feel the situation warrants, find out if you and your child can visit the school and meet the new teacher. Sometimes a little sneak preview can help calm some of the fears. This may be particularly helpful if your child is starting at a brand new school.
- Talk about school in a positive way. Reminisce about the fun times you had as a student and talk about all the exciting things your child will get to see and experience.
- Focus on the positive aspects of a new class, grade, teacher or school. Maybe this year your child will get to go on a special field trip, learn how to play an instrument, or get to take part in a special school activity they were too young for in the past.
- Get your child back into a regular sleeping/waking routine. Giving their bodies time to readjust to the stricter schedule will help make that part of going back to school a little easier to manage.
- Make the last week before school less busy and adventurous. Concentrate on quieter activities closer to home so the transition from summer “freedom” to school doesn’t seem quite as drastic. Working on a summer keepsake book is a great activity for the week before school starts.
- Help your child feel as prepared as possible for the first day of school. Help them choose an outfit, buy new school supplies and make sure their bag is all packed and ready to go.
School is really your child’s first full-time job, and it’s important to empower them to be able to confidently head off on that adventure and tackle the unknown. School fears usually ease within the first few days, so know that all the work you’re doing in advance should pay off soon.
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