School is almost in session and your child may need some ways to help cope with back to school anxiety. Every parent knows the anxiety that comes with the first day of school. Whether children are returning or just starting their first day of kindergarten, first day of school anxiety is normal and to be expected. Children and teens can experience anxiety about a teacher, starting a new school, the subject matter, or even just being away from home and not knowing what might happen. As parents, it can be overwhelming dealing with the anxieties surrounding back to school.
Here are 5 tips to help your child cope with back to school jitters:
1. Take care of their basic needs
When anxious, some children may not be hungry or may have trouble sleeping. Make sure they are eating right and getting enough sleep leading up to going back to school. They may begin experiencing anxiety once the reality of back to school sets in with commercials on TV and supplies flooding the stores.
2. Encourage them to talk about their fears
Feeling anxious about going back to school is normal for a child or teen. Encourage them to talk about what is worrying them and tell them that it is normal to be experiencing these feelings. Arrange for some one-on-one time with him or her in a comfortable setting and ask what has been on their mind.
3. Practice coping skills at home
Once you’ve determined what is worrying them about going back to school, try coming up with and practicing some coping skills for when they are in school. Ask them what they would do in a situation that worries them in order to provide a structure for them to learn coping skills should the occasion arise. Providing them the opportunity and skills to problem solve can help them feel more prepared and overcome their anxiety about returning to school.
4. Be positive and make it fun
Rather than allowing your child to focus on the things they are worried about, redirect their attention to positive things about school that they can look forward to. Ask them to name something they are excited about rather than letting them worry about what could go wrong. Make going back to school a positive thing by getting your child involved in buying school supplies they can be excited to use, planning lunches they can look forward to eating, and planning outfits they can look forward to wearing.
5. Monitor your own anxiety
As a parent, sending your child back to school can cause all kinds of anxiety in yourself as well. Again, this is normal. Make sure to acknowledge this anxiety but try to model calmness and confidence for your child. Children look to their parents for guidance and examples and can notice whether you are nervous as well. When they see that you are calm about them going to school, they will feel that there is no reason to be worried.
Going back to school can cause stress and anxiety in both parents and children. It’s important to know that these feelings are normal and to come up with strategies that work for both you and your child to combat these feelings. Find what works for you and your family and good luck with the new school year!
Amanda Patterson, LMHC, CAP , Mental Health Counselor of the Year by the Florida Mental Health Counseling Association, decided to become a therapist while attending Nova Southeastern University. She saw the need to help people achieve the life they wanted to live, while creating a life of her own. She completed her master’s in Mental Health Counseling and started a career in the juvenile justice arena. Amanda has been a therapist for ten years and has a private practice in Wellington, Florida, specializing in depression, anxiety, relationship issues, and substance abuse in teenagers and young adults. Amanda is a believer in holistic treatment and she practices veganism, meditation and yoga in her life. Find out more about her practice here.