Back to School Anxiety
Some kids actually look forward to going back to school each Fall. They get new clothes, they get to see their friends, and they view each new school year as starting a new chapter in their lives. But for many students, and their parents, the changes associated with a new school year can be a source of stress and anxiety. Below are some tips for managing back to school anxiety, and making the beginning of a new school year pleasant for everyone.
Identify the Source of Anxiety
Knowing exactly what is causing the anxiety around school will make it easier to come up with solutions for resolving it. Maybe your child is concerned about getting lost at a new school or campus, or with going to the bus stop alone. There could also be concerns about meeting new students, or dealing with new teachers. As a parent, you could be concerned with juggling the morning school routine and afternoon pick-up with your work routine.
Another thing to consider is that your childís anxiety could be centered around a school bully or other social challenges.
Addressing the Anxiety
If your child is worried about getting lost at school, consider taking a tour of the building or campus at the end of summer to let your child get familiar with his new surroundings. Make sure to check in at the main office, so they know you are there, and why.
If your child is concerned about getting lost on the way to or from school, drive the route from your house to the school to familiarize your child with it. You can also walk the route several times with your child, to point out street names and landmarks to reduce anxiety. You might even decide together on which landmarks are "safe stops" along the way, such as a library, post office or other location where your child can wait out a rainstorm or call you.
Most teachers and staff need to be in attendance a few weeks before school officially opens. While you are checking in at the office, you can introduce your child to the staff so that he will see familiar faces on his first day. If your childís teacher is available, you can even ask to meet her. Keep in mind, however, that teachers have a lot of preparation to do, so try to keep the visit short.
Try setting up play dates with kids in the neighborhood who are attending the same school. If there arenít any school-age children in your neighborhood, consider contacting the PTA and suggest having a small party or get-together with other students to kick off the new school year.
Itís a good idea to start your new sleep schedule a few weeks before school starts. This way you can get used to waking up early, doing your morning routine, and getting your kids to school on time.
Pack lunches the night before, have quick and easy breakfast options available, like peanut butter sandwiches or granola bars with yogurt cups or tubes.
Make sure you have all of the school supplies your child needs, and that you keep her school bag where she can easily find and retrieve it.
If your child takes the bus, consider doing several test runs to the bus stop to ensure she knows where the bus will stop and how she can get there in time. You should also have a backup plan in case she misses the bus, such as a key to the house, so she can return home safely. Also provide her a list of phone numbers, or a phone with pre-programmed numbers of people she can call for a ride to school.
If you suspect your child is being bullied, try to get the name of the bully and notify the school of the problem. More and more schools are using a zero-tolerance plan for bullying, and are getting more involved in preventing bullying. If the bullying is occurring on the route to and from school, consider driving or walking your child there, or helping your child find ways to avoid or handle the bully.
These are just a few examples of possible reasons, and solutions, for back-to-school anxiety; but this is by no means a comprehensive list. Regardless of the cause, the best tools for coping with anxiety are knowledge, support and preparation.
This content is provided to the community by Healthboards Editorial Staff.