Back to School Anxiety
As kids get ready to head back to school this fall, many will experience a certain amount of anxiety, wondering to themselves: Will the work be too hard? Will the other kids like me? The anxiety can sometimes appear in the form of difficulty sleeping or eating, or even refusing to go to school or experiencing a strong emotional reaction on their first day.
Amidst these worries, the experts have provided some helpful advice for parents seeking guidance:
Discussing what, specifically, has your child worried can be one of the best ways to help him or her feel more equipped to handle tough situations, like bullies, and let him or her know that other children are likely experiencing the same worries. Also, reminding your child of what he or she missed about school over the summer can help replace anxiety with excitement.
Research has shown that routines make children feel more secure, therefore, getting into the routine of going to bed early and waking up early a few weeks before school officially starts can help ease some of the “newness” associated with a new school year. Also, setting up a specific spot for them in the house where they can do homework, as well as getting them more involved in picking out snacks to keep in the house, and planning their lunches can help relieve anxiousness.
Sometimes, shopping for new school supplies and clothes can help turn a new school year into something exciting (instead of something to be worried about).
Confronting what it is that is causing the anxiety before school starts can also help; drive to and from the school a few times, tour the new classroom, maybe meet the new teacher; even setting up playdates with children who you know will be in your child’s class can help take away some of the fear of the unknown.
During the first week your child is back at school, it can be helpful if you are available to drop them off, or are already home when they get home, etc.
If There Have Been Changes at Home
If there has been a big change in family structure recently—such as divorce or legal separation—it is even more important to help provide reassurances for your child by talking to and reinforcing routines. Some even advise that you inform key individuals at the school, such as your child’s teacher(s), counselor, etc., about the changes so that they are kept informed about what is going on. Above all, ensuring that both parents map out a plan for the year ahead of time can be tremendously important for the child.
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