How to Help with Back to School Anxiety

how to help kids with back to school anxiety

The first day of school – even the first week of school can be rough. New sights, sounds, routines, people – the list of “new” goes on and on! If your child is one of the many who are overwhelmed and anxious about going back to school, here are a few ideas to help ease the transition:

Have Empathy

It can be hard to remember how difficult a new routine can be on our kids. Do your best to take a breath and let your child know you understand that they are feeling nervous – and that you are going to help them. Display confidence that you’re going to work through their fears with them and it’s going to be ok.

Set Them Up for Success

When kids have the basics covered – a full belly and  a good night’s sleep – they are able to get a better grip on their emotions. Create a schedule that allows them to have plenty of rest and healthy meals too.

Bring a Lovey

If it’s permitted by the school, consider letting your child take a special thing to school. A stuffed animal, blanket or other lovey might be just enough to calm them when they are worried.

Make it Special

Sometimes a special task is a great way to get your child looking forward to the day. Taking a special snack to share with classmates, or have them draw a picture or even bring flowers for their teacher. Anything that excites them and gives them something to look forward to can calm their nerves.

Get a Routine

Knowing what to expect can help soothe worried kids. Come up with a plan and verbalize it to your child. Let them know what they can anticipate i.e. breakfast,  drive to school, hang up backpack, find a toy or friend to play, etc. Consider asking your teacher to give you a general schedule for the class day and talk about it before getting to school.

Having a routine for your exit from the classroom is essential to avoiding tears. Create a process together that you will do each time you leave. For example: settle into the classroom and pick an activity, walk mom to the door, kiss and hug, say good bye and mom closes the door. A routine that they can always count on can make the daily transition into the classroom  much easier.

Sneak Out

Ok, this is a tough one, but we think it’s worth putting out there. Many children need the previous advice; a routine and clear time to say good bye to their parent.  That said, some kids struggle with the separation of that good bye. If you know that your child reacts poorly to your good byes and you can’t get a routine that seems to work, then consider sneaking out. Be sure to loop in your child’s teacher into your plan to make sure that your child is in fact happier when they don’t have a to face good bye time.

Ask for Help

Obviously you are trusting your child to amazing people! Ask for their assistance; what do they think would be the best approach? What can they do to make the transition easier? What advice do they have for you?

The good news is that back to school jitters do eventually wear off! Whatever approach you try, just remember it can take a little time to get into that new routine. Hang in there, parents!