Tips for Coping with Back-to-School Anxiety
Tips for Coping with Back-to-School Anxiety
Back-to-school can cause a range of emotions for both students and parents. You both may be feeling overwhelmed, scared, worried, excited, or just plain stressed. Whatever you are feeling, know it’s perfectly normal to feel uneasy when things are changing yet again.
The counselors and therapists at Whole Journey regularly work with both parents and children who are struggling with the upcoming changes of a new school year. We understand that transitions and new responsibilities can be difficult to face. That is why we have put together a list of tips for parents, and another for children, who are dealing with anxious feelings related to the start of school.
Tips for Children Coping with Back-to-School Anxiety
1.) Plan Ahead for Schedule Changes — In the summer, it is easy to get off track with schedules. Children often stay up late and sleep in, making the transition to school time a lot more challenging. You can help your child to adjust better to upcoming schedule changes by starting earlier. A week or two before school starts, gradually get back into a school bedtime routine. Send them to bed at a reasonable hour and get them up at the normal school time so their bodies can start to adjust. Sleep is so important, and getting the proper amount can reduce anxiety and improve mental health.
2.) Give Your Child a Preview — Talk to your child about what they can expect for the upcoming school year. Give them some exciting stuff to look forward to. If you can preview the classroom or have a playdate with a future classmate, do it. Anything to help ease the unknowns is helpful.
3.) Shop for Supplies Together — Children get excited about picking out their supplies for the upcoming school year. Shopping together, so they can have a say in the color or design of their binders or backpacks can help to get them excited to use their new stuff. It can also be a great time to talk to your child about school and feelings. Use it as a productive mental health outing and an opportunity to connect.
4.) Be A Listening Ear — The bottom line is to let your child know that whatever they are feeling is ok and that you are there to listen and comfort them. Promote the positives whenever you can. School may be starting but so are sports, band, and other fun activities.
Tips for Parents Coping with Back-to-School Anxiety
1.) Make a List —Any change requires planning. That can be daunting when we already have busy schedules. Make a list of the things you need to get done to prepare for back to school so things can feel more manageable. Plus, checking things off a list can feel great.
2.) Use a Calendar – With back-to-school comes routine and schedule changes. Use a calendar to keep track of things. You may even want to plan out what time the kids should be eating breakfast or dinner and what those meals may be for the first few days until you get into the groove. Having it all in front of you will help you to visualize it.
3.) Talk About Worries — As a parent, you likely have a lot of different concerns. You may be worried about your child’s teacher, special services your child may receive, health, safety, your child adjusting, and before/after school care. Talk it out. Share your concerns with a trusted friend, relative, or mental health professional. Often the act of talking about it can make all the difference. Sharing concerns with others who “get it” can help to ease some of your worries and give you the support you need.
4.) Plan a Celebratory Event — The start of a new school year can be exciting. Do something to celebrate the event. It could be having a small party with your children and their friends and parents, or going out with other parents for breakfast on the first day. It could even be taking your kids to ice cream, or another treat, after the first day. A small celebration can help to make a stressful time positive.
Help is Here
If you are struggling with stress, anxiety, or other mental health concerns, consider seeking the help of a counselor or therapist. They can help teach you healthy coping tools and offer you support. Transitions are hard. You don’t have to struggle on your own.
Ready to begin counseling in Virginia?
Whole Journey works with clients throughout the state of Virginia and North Carolina via our online and telehealth counseling platforms. We have office locations in Chesapeake, Richmond, and Charlotte. Our counselors are professionally trained in helping people to live healthier, happier lives. We want to see you thrive. Call our Virginia offices at 757-296-0800 or our North Carolina office at 980- 209-9805 to schedule an appointment.