How to ease back-to-school anxiety

Though it might feel like the snow has barely melted, leaves are beginning to fall on Casper Mountain. Soon school bells will be ringing, and your kiddo is probably starting to feel anxiety about the upcoming school year.

According to Central Wyoming Counseling Center Director of Youth and Family Services Bill Howell, it’s important for parents to play an active role in this transition so your kids understand you’re going through this transition time together. Here are five tips for a seamless summer-to-school shift.

  1. Start your in-school routine before class is in session. Put your child to bed at the time she will be going to bed during the school year now, and wake her up when she’ll have to go back to school. Ease your family back into your routine before the other stresses of school start.
  2. Make a list of positives about going back to school like seeing old friends, playing sports, or music class. Pointing out the positives can make going back to school less scary and hopefully even exciting. Your child will follow your example of enthusiasm.
  3. Put your child in control of a few small things. Let him pick out his first-day-of-school outfit or what he’ll eat for breakfast that day. He can feel out of control when he’s forced to go back to school, so allowing him to make a few choices can help him feel more in control.
  4. Validate your child’s emotions about returning to school. If he says he’s afraid, telling him not to be isn’t helpful. Instead, assure him you understand his feelings and help him overcome them by saying something like, “It’s OK to be afraid. But when you are afraid of something, you have to be brave and face your fears. You can do this.”
  5. Send a piece of you to school with your child. Maybe that’s a note in her lunchbox, a special treat for snack time, or let her wear a piece of your (inexpensive) jewelry. That small reminder that she’s loved by you will bring her comfort throughout the day.

Whatever approach you take, it’s important to show that you’re excited for school, even if you’re secretly sharing your student’s back-to-school blues. And if you need something to look forward to, Howell has some advice for next summer. “Continue learning behaviors throughout the summer with fun and educational games. There’s tons of virtual opportunities that your child will love. It’s important to keep that learning environment active at home so they don’t forget everything they learned throughout the school year,” he said.

If you’re concerned that your child is feeling an unusually high level of stress about going back to school, call Central Wyoming Counseling Center today. Central professionals can help balance the everyday stresses of family, work, school and everything else life throws at us, even if these challenges appear routine or small.

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