It’s hard to believe that time is coming again. The beginning of the school year can be an exciting time—new clothes, new school supplies, new classmates. However, it can also be a stressful time. I remember having vivid dreams before school started each year about getting lost in winding, never-ending hallways and not making it to any of my classes. Though I did get lost a few times, things always ended up working out. Getting a little anxious for the school year is normal. However, the unknown can be scary and can cause anxiety in school kids of all ages.
Below are some proven tips to help lessen your child’s back-to-school anxiety.
- Try to stay positive– Kids can feed off of the anxiety of their parent’s anxiety. Point out all of the things they have to look forward to-seeing friends they might not have seen during the break, making new friends, and extracurricular activities such as clubs or sports.
- Don’t allow kids to stay home– School is not a choice but a necessity. Kids can have fears that make them resistant to go to school, but if they don’t go they won’t realize which fears are realistic and which aren’t. School increases social skills through teaching children how to interact with one another. They also are able to create friendships, make important memories, and advance academically.
- Start preparing for school in advance– Gets kids used to the idea of school and what it will entail. It may be helpful to start having your child wake up at the time they will have to wake up for school a few days in advance so that it won’t be so hard when they have to do it. Make sure that children get working on summer homework so it’s not all saved for the last minute and won’t create positive connotations with going back to school. Make sure your child is set with clothes and school supplies and that their backpack is packed and ready the night before. This will decrease stress for both you and your child in the morning.
- Listen to your child’s concerns- Listen and be willing to discuss your child’s fears. Talking about them will help. Remember that a fear that may seem small to you could be a big deal to your child. Don’t downplay their fears. Try to help them come up with solutions to the perceived problem or explain how things will most likely be better than they expect. For young children, it can help to also remind them of all the things they have to look forward to at school.
- Make sure all the basics are met– The school year can get very busy for both parents and students. Make sure that your child is eating healthy, has clean clothes, etc. A healthy body and diet leads to improved brain function and health, which contributes to overall better mental health.
- Take MindWhale’s Brain Health Quiz with your child– The Brain Health Quiz is a simple, quick way to assess your child’s personal brain health. At MindWhale, you can work with biochemist and nutritionist Nicholas Hundley to create a plan for healing for your anxious child. Children with anxiety disorders have a more difficult time functioning at school than their peers. Start the school year off right by scheduling an appointment with MindWhale.
- Before school visit– Many schools allow before school visits. This can lessen the unknown for children and help them know more of what to expect before the first day. Arrange for your child to meet their teacher if possible. For older kids, help them find their classes so they have a better idea to go on the first day of school.
- Make time for family– Some kids may resist going to school because they are anxious to leave family members. Le your child know that you are there for them. Try to be present when kids are home and ask about their school day. Create family routines such as a time for a weekly family hike or family dinner.