Managing Back to School Stress and Anxiety

August 6, 2019

With summer coming to a close and the new school year starting up, it is normal for both parents and students to feel nervous and anxious with the upcoming shift to new grades, new teachers, and busier schedules. Getting through this transition is often stressful, but with a little preparation it can be managed for a smooth transition from summer leisure to school-year routine.

With just a few simple steps and a little preparation, you can make this transition a little easier for both you and your child.

Take care of yourself first

Stress is contagious, and the more stressed out you are as a parent, the more your child is going to feel the stress. As you prepare for the school year, be sure to take time to manage your stress levels by getting enough sleep, taking time to exercise, and avoid waiting until the last minute to start preparing.

Communicate

One of the most important things you can do as a parent is listen and communicate. If your child is showing any signs of stress or anxiety, ask them what they are worried about and act as a sounding board to help validate how they feel. Help them understand their feeling are normal, and that you’ve also had the same feelings. However, avoid trying to solve their problem or act dismissive of any feelings that seem trivial to you. The way to help them de-stress is to provide encouragement and acceptance of their concerns, instead of offering any form of a solution.

Plan ahead and set expectations

When returning to school, kids are contending with a variety of unknowns – what teachers they will have, how hard the work is going to be, what social pressures will they face, among many other factors, so setting some expectations at home can relieve some of the pressure (for you and the child). Start by planning out the morning routine so you can get out on time from day one. Also, set expectations on when and where homework should be done so it can become part of a regular routine.

Stay Involved

It is likely to take a few weeks for a child to settle into their new routine, so it is important to stay involved as much as possible to ensure they are transitioning smoothly. Establish regular communication with their teachers so you can stay on top of how they are doing academically, socially and behaviorally. This often can give you some insight and early warning if your child is having issues getting adjusted, so you can take action before things turn into a larger problem.

Managing back to school stress does not need to be difficult. It essentially comes down to making sure you are prepared mentally and well organized. If you both know what to expect, have the right attitude, and have a plan to keep things from sneaking up on you at the last minute, you will be able to reduce anxiety and start the school year with excitement and enthusiasm.

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