Originally posted by Ali Goldfield, M.A. on TherapyStew (www.therapystew.com) – August 2013
Lots of kids (and parents) have mixed feelings about the start of the school year. It can be really exciting getting ready for school: getting school supplies, new clothes and looking forward to seeing their friends. However, it can also cause a lot of anxiety for many kids, whether they’re starting a new school or not. Taking the time to talk through their anxieties and fears is the few weeks before school starts could make all the difference. Finding out what they’re nervous about – whether it’s meeting the new teacher, making new friends or finding the bathroom when needed, it’s all important to them.
Try the following tips to further ease back to school anxiety:
Make a Plan
If your child is starting a new school, a tour around the campus can be a simple way to ease the first-day jitters. Make sure they know where their classroom is, their locker and especially the bathroom. If you get a class list before school starts, arrange a get together with one of the kids in the class before school starts — first-day jitters are less jittery if there’s a familiar face in class. Teaching anxious middle-schoolers how to use their lock, talk about whether they will be buying lunches or brown bagging it, even sending your child’s teacher an email introducing yourself and your child can help.
Remind Your Child of the Fun They Had Last Year
Point out the positive aspects of starting school: It will be fun. They will see old friends and meet new ones. Try to refresh their memory about previous years, when they may have returned home after the first day with high spirits because they had a good time,
Address the Anxiety at Home
Talking about the different things that are causing them some worries and even role play out some of the potentially stressful scenarios your child may encounter at a new school — making friends, encountering older kids and encounters with strangers — may help ease their fears.
Get Back Into Routine
Anxious kids can feel soothed by a familiar routine. Prepare kids for a new routine by organizing your house in a back-to-school way. Get their school supplies ready, talk about what they want for lunch on the first day, help them decide what to wear on the first day. If possible, start the back-to-school routine a week or two before school starts. Make sure your back-to-school routine includes plenty of sleep and help your child get back on track with an earlier bedtime and wake-up time.
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