The back-to-school season can be an exciting time for some, but a hectic time for others. Summer is winding down and it’s time to start thinking about getting back to work. But for a lot of school children, it’s not easy especially if they deal with anxiety. Luckily, there are a few ways that you can help your child manage their anxiety about going back to school.
You can help them turn their worrying thoughts into positive ones. Remember that together anything is possible. Here are 10 ways that you can help ease your child into the back-to-school routine.
First and foremost, start from the basics. Talk to your child about what they can expect on the first day of school. If possible, take them to their school’s meet and greet so they can meet their teacher and their classmates and hopefully find out where they sit as well.
Also, let their teacher know that your child has some reservations about beginning the new school year. Along with their teacher a guidance counselor can also talk to your child and show him or her the support they need. Remember, it often does take a village to raise a child right.
While this might be tough to do, make sure that you set clear expectations or any goals that you may have for both you and your child before the start of the school year. Doing this as a team will certainly help your child achieve their success and hopefully help ease their anxiety and fears about school, too.
Be clear but at the same time, show your love and support, too. Also, keep in mind that it’s important for you to have similar expectations for your children with anxiety issues and your children who don’t have anxiety. Treat everyone as equals.
A lot of parents want to take their child’s worries away by fixing or solving all of their problems for them. But if you have a child that constantly worries about the next day or even what might happen in the next hour, it’s time that you step back a little.
Let them face their fears on their own and soon enough they will find out that many of their worries were unwarranted.
Another good way to help lessen your child’s back to school anxiety is to do a few simple daily exercises with them. If they're worried about their academic subjects, try to freshen up on a few skills in a workbook before school. If they're worried about meeting new people, contact some of the other parents in their class and arrange for end-of-summer playdates.
You can also prepare them by practicing your daily morning school routine and settle in early (if you’ve been up late during the summer months) to ensure that your child is fully rested before school.
Needless to say, there’s no magic answer when it comes to easing or completely fixing a child’s anxiety. But of course, there are many ways that you can help your child get through their day. If you feel as though your child is always on pins and needles, suggest some downtime so they can relax and decompress, especially after a long day at school.
Some different ways that they can unwind is by having free play, spending time outdoors, riding their bike or hanging out with their friends at the park. Also, make sure they have plenty of water and three healthy and balanced meals a day.
Another good way to help your child deal with their anxiety is by building a coping kit. A few things you can do is help your child through different breathing techniques, try a progressive muscle relaxation, give them a stress ball or in some cases, encourage them to keep a journal and write out their feelings.
By writing down their feelings, they might have a better understanding of their emotions.
A lot of parents have the notion that the only way to help a child with their anxiety is to try and erase it from their lives altogether. But that shouldn’t always be the case. As a matter of fact, health experts suggest that parents don’t try and eliminate their child’s anxiety, but rather work to help manage it.
Also, it’s important to emphasize with your child. Let them know that they are never alone and that you will always be there to help guide them through their feelings whether it’s for today, tomorrow or the last day of school, too.
Don’t ask leading questions that might trigger your child’s anxiety even more. Rather than directly ask them what’s wrong or pressuring them to describe a concerning situation, try reframing your questions. For example, sit down with your child and try to take a worry thought and change it to a positive one instead.
You can also break down one of their concerns to see if their worry is 100 percent right. You can also ask them what the worry is telling them, rather than why they are worried. This can help your anxious child take control of their anxious thoughts.
While a lot of parents are often most concerned about their child’s emotional health and their well-being, don’t forget that you need to take care of yourself, too. An anxious child oftentimes can make a parent feel anxious, too. If you feel yourself getting stressed about the back-to-school season too, take a moment to step back and practice a few stress-relieving exercises of your own.
Whether it’s meeting up with a group of parents, working out or even treating yourself to a spa day, there are several different ways that you can relax and wind down before the hectic school year begins for everyone.
One of the most important things that any parent can do for a child – regardless if they have anxiety or not – is to keep positive. Expressing self-doubt will only make your child feel worse about their back-to-school anxiety. Let your child know that no matter what happens, they can count on their parents, their school administrators and of course, their family members and friends to help them get through each and every day.
You can even start a fun tradition like going out for ice cream after school or better yet, heading to your favorite coffee shop before school drop off for a breakfast treat.