While most kids don’t want summer to end, there’s a big difference between end-of-summer blues and back-to-school anxiety. The fear and anxiety of the upcoming school year is a real thing for a lot of kids. Here are some ways you can help your child.
Look for Signs
While lots of kids may have anxiety about the start of the upcoming school year, they may not be able to articulate them, especially if they’re younger. Researchers at Harvard suggest parents looking for these other signs your kids may be struggling.
- Changes in sleep pattern—like your child having a harder time falling asleep
- Consistent questions around the unknowns of the new school year
- Increased complaints of stomach aches and headaches
- An avoidance of talking about anything related to school
All of these may be signs that your child is having more of an issue with the transition than just traditional jitters.
Talk About It
If your child is too young to articulate their feelings, helping them find words to express what they’re feeling will enable you to start a dialogue. Older children might be able to express some of their worries and fears. Either way, it’s important to validate your child’s concern. Simply telling them “it’s going to be alright,” or “there’s nothing to worry about,” may seem reassuring, but won’t necessarily ease their fears. Instead, try different coping mechanisms that might ease their worries.
- A meet and greet to familiarize them with their new teacher and their classroom
- Finding a friend or peer who can serve as a “buddy” for the first few days of school
- Talking through their concerns and role-playing possible solutions so they feel like they are armed with tools for situations that may provoke fear or anxiety
Give Them A Good Start
After a summer of various schedules and sleep routines, it’s important to try and establish a healthy routine prior to the start of the school year to ensure your child’s body is ready to head back to school as well.
- Establish school bedtimes prior to the start of school
- Ensure that your child is getting a balanced diet that will sustain them when throughout the school day
- Don’t commit to too many extracurricular activities until your child has had a chance to get settled into their school routine
Kids that already suffer from conditions like Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) or separation anxiety may be more prone to experience worry around the return to school. If you feel your child might need additional help, contact the school counselor or your child’s teacher to discuss potential issues and solutions.
Model calm behavior yourself and consistently reinforce your child’s positive behaviors toward school. Advice given to Parentology by Dr. Irina Chikvashvili, a child, adolescent, and adult psychiatrist located in New York, about summer anxiety applies here, too. “Parents who prioritize their physical and mental health are better pillars of support for children, providing a safe and comfortable environment to ease their child’s
With open communication and consistency, you can help your child feel they have what it takes to have a successful school year.