Relieving Back To School Anxiety

RelievingBackToSchoolAnxietySummer is quickly coming to an end for kids all around the country and, like some children, your child might be experiencing some back-to-school anxiety. This can show itself in many ways including separation anxiety, trouble falling asleep, and cranky behaviour. Many children fear the unknown and the beginning of a new school year brings many unknowns including a new teacher, classroom, schoolmates, and schedule. The first steps to relieving back-to-school anxiety in your child is recognizing it and then helping your child deal with their fears.

Begin by asking your child questions about the upcoming school year. Listen to their answers and don’t interrupt. Sometimes being able to speak about our fears and worries aloud helps to minimize them. Repeat back in your own words what your child has said to you to make sure you have fully understood what they have shared with you. Try not to negate their feelings with pat answers but reassure them it is normal to have fears. Try to encourage your child to problem-solve their fears and anxieties. Ask questions and help them find solutions.

Refocus your child on the positive aspects of school. Now that they have shared their fears, ask them what they are most looking forward to as they go back to school. Encourage this positive train of thought.

If you have them, pull out any pictures from their last year at school, this might include pictures of their birthday party where school friends were in attendance. Talk about their last year at school. Focus on the positive experiences they had, like making new friends, fun projects, school assemblies, school trips, plays they watched or participated in, and any funny moments you can think of. Remind your child that good things can and do happen at school. Seeing pictures of school events and their school friends will help them look forward to going back to school.

Introduce some back-to-school activities on a daily basis, perhaps a coloring page, puzzle or game. You’ll find some great back-to-school activities at Squigly’s Playhouse. As you and your child do these activities, talk. The more you talk about school the more ‘normal’ returning to school will become and perhaps an excitement for school will overtake any fears they have.

Visit your local library or buy some some book about going back to school. Our children enjoyed the The Berenstain Bears books. The book pictured below is available at Amazon and most likely at your local library or bookstore. If the thought of going to back to school is very upsetting to your child, avoid reading these stories at bedtime.

Set up a play date or two with your child’s school friends. Helping them reconnect with kids from their grade before school starts will help them feel at ease.

Take your child to the school’s playground. Spend time playing there. This will allow your child the opportunity to become comfortable on school property.

Many teachers head back to school a week or two before the beginning of classes to set up their classroom. Call your child’s teacher(s) and explain your child’s anxiety to them. Request a meeting and classroom tour prior to school start. Knowing his teacher(s) and what to expect on the first day will help set your child at ease. Most teachers are wonderful at helping children to feel comfortable about returning to school.

Begin preparing your child for his back-to-school schedule a week or two before school starts by  working towards an earlier bedtime and earlier waking time.

Involve your child in back-to-school decisions including clothing, snacks and lunches. Allow them to choose their school supplies like pencil cases, crayons, pencils and notebooks.

Relieving back-to-school anxiety isn’t easy and probably won’t happen overnight, but the more you and your child work together problem-solving his fears the more ready your child will be for their first day back at school.

Has your child experienced back-to-school anxiety? How did you overcome their fears?


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