Relieving Back-to-School Stress & Anxiety
Many kids (and parents) are anxious about approaching a new school year. From hectic mornings to last-minute projects, the many activities that make up the busy schedules of the school year can be tough on both parents and students, causing intense stress and anxiety at times. Here are five ways you can lessen stress:
Start Early to Prevent Sleep Loss or Insomnia
Over the summer, most families take their cues from the sun and stay up later. While it may be tempting to keep the late-night fun going until the end, starting your school routine a few weeks early can help ease the transition back to school.
Two to three weeks before the advent of school, begin going to bed, getting up earlier, and trying to eat on a more regular schedule. This advice isn’t just for little kids; teens and adults need quality sleep for proper functioning, and getting your schedule straight will help prevent insomnia or sleep deprivation when school starts. Good rest can help your child better manage stress on the first day.
Related: Can Therapy Help With Insomnia?
Do a Walk-Through
While we’re on the topic of starting early, it’s a good idea to visit the school before the first day to reduce back-to-school stress. For kids who are going to be first-timers for kindergarten, first grade, middle school, or even high school, this can help them feel more comfortable with the new place and get a better idea of where to go once they’re there. Even for returning students, it doesn’t hurt to know where the classroom is, say hello to whatever staff is there getting ready, and start getting excited about returning.
Stack the Deck
If you have any input on your child’s class assignment, it’s a good idea to ensure that there’s at least one friend in the class or classes your child will be attending. If classes are assigned without your input, talk to other parents and try to find out who your child will be sharing a class with ahead of time, and let them know. Knowing who is in their class will give them something else to look forward to and remind them of what they enjoy about school.
If your child is entering kindergarten or first grade, it might be a good idea to have a playdate with one of the children who will be in their class a week before school starts to help them feel more comfortable and get more excited about seeing their friends again in school.
If you’re new to the area or don’t know anyone, try checking out the school’s social media pages to find other parents and kids.
Back-to-school shopping may help your child get excited about the new school year. If your child really couldn’t care less about shopping, you can make it quick and painless, but for kids who relish the annual decisions of which clothes, backpacks, and other supplies to choose, it can be an easy way to ease your child into the new year.
Along these lines, have fun preparing your child’s study area. It’s important that your child has a comfortable, quiet place to study. You may also want to get your routines ready; as you get back onto an earlier schedule, have your kids start laying out their clothes the night before, keeping their shoes by the door, and get back into other morning habits that help you get out the door with less hassle. This can help refine your routines and make the back-to-school transition easier.
Talk to One Another
One of the best ways to relieve back-to-school stress and prepare for the coming year is to simply talk to your child about what he or she may be feeling. When the subject of school comes up, let your child tell you what’s exciting about school and what may be a little anxiety-provoking.
If your child expresses some negativity about the school, don’t immediately discount his or her concerns; instead, focus on validating feelings. Then you can help find solutions or shift the focus to a more positive one like seeing friends, covering exciting new material, and growing up. Creating open lines of communication lets your child know you’ll be available for support.
This can be an excellent time to discuss important topics like how to handle bullies, peer pressure, and other important topics.
A Word From Nystrom & Associates
The main thing to remember in dealing with back-to-school stress and anxiety is to be prepared mentally and logistically. Know what to expect, be prepared, and plan to keep things manageable. Then follow that plan. If you show enthusiasm for what the new school year brings, your kids are sure to pick up on it, and the nervous energy will turn into excitement.
Source: Very Well Family