Many children really look forward to the first day of school, but some dread it. Whether your child is starting kindergarten or high school, they may be feeling anxious and overwhelmed about school. Follow these tips to help your child cope with back-to-school anxiety.
Step 1: Lead by example
Be a good model for your anxious child by reducing your own stress. Though you might be worried about your kid starting school, you shouldn’t transfer additional concern to him/her. Instead, do what you can reduce your own anxiety before talking to your child.
Step 2: Invite your child to discuss it
Without having a formal sit-down chat, invite your child to talk about their fears and anxieties. Talk with your child when she is relaxed — perhaps when you are reading together before bedtime or playing a board game. Ask open-ended questions to get the conversation started, such as: “Changes can be intimidating sometimes. With the start of school coming up, all of us are going to have some changes with our daily routines. What do you think about that?” This will help your child to open up about her concerns.
Step 3: Let him know you can relate
Ease your child’s fears by talking about a situation where you were nervous or anxious and overcame those feelings (such as your first day on a new job). Talk about what you did to cope with your anxiety and discuss positive outcomes.
Step 4: Make your child feel prepared
Your child’s feelings may stem from not knowing what to expect. See if you and your child can schedule a visit to the school, meet his/her new teacher and learn more about the daily routine. If your child is starting kindergarten or a new school, see if it’s possible to get a class list. Maybe you can arrange a playdate with a couple of the other children in the class before the school year starts. Anything and everything you can do to help your child feel prepared is important.
Step 5: Get into your school routine
Summertime often consists of staying up late and eating a lot more treats. Get back into your regular schooltime routine several weeks before school starts. Play learning games, finish up summer reading and refresh other skills. Make sure the kids get plenty of sleep and eat healthy foods. Sleep, diet and exercise can all affect mood and the ability to deal with change and stress.
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