How to Help Your Child Manage Back-to-School Anxiety
The transition from summer vacation to returning to school can be anxiety-provoking because of the all the unknowns that can come with it. New classmates, new curriculum, and new teachers can all be exciting, but can also be intimidating for some kids. Fortunately, there are many ways that parents can help their kids manage anxiety about going back to school and help them feel more comfortable about the coming school year.
“Back-to-school anxiety is incredibly common for many children, and can manifest both positively and negatively” says Brittany McCrady, Clinical Manager at Centerstone. There are some distinct indicators that parents should recognize when their child may be experiencing anxiety about going back to school. Those indicators can include resistance to an adjusted schedule or routine, enacting school-themed scenarios during play, negative responses to conversations about school, or increased irritation or frustration.
Luckily, when addressing back-to-school issues with your child, there are several things parents can do to help ease feelings of anxiety.
- Get involved
If there is an opportunity for your child to be involved in a club or sport, or have a playdate with classmates prior to the start of the school year, this can help them feel more connected to the school and their peers.
- Go to the school
Driving or walking past the building close to the start of the school year can be helpful especially for kids who are attending a brand new school. “They can see that it isn’t some big, scary place,” adds McCrady “this starts building familiarity, and decreasing the unknown.” Additionally, take advantage of any orientation activities the school may offer. It can be beneficial for students to meet their teachers and see their classroom ahead of time so they aren’t overwhelmed on their first day.
- Let them take the reigns
A lot of kids who experience back-to-school anxiety may feel this way because of the lack of control they have in the situation. For instance, allowing them to choose their backpack, lunchbox, or folders can give them a feeling of control, and may help them feel more at ease.
- Be aware of your own emotions
“Sometimes how we feel can come out and influence the way the child is thinking about the next school year,” says McCrady. Even if you’re also feeling anxious about your child going back to school, it can be helpful to do your own preparation. This might include some of the same things listed above, as well as practicing calming strategies.
Feeling a little nervous about a new school year is common and expected. However, if your child shows signs of more serious, general anxiety, Centerstone can help. Call us at 877-HOPE123 (1-877-467-3123) or visit our counseling services page.