Soothe Back-to-School Jitters
Shouldering some responsibility for back-to-school preparations helps kids feel more empowered and excited about the big day.New teachers, new friends and new routines — the first day of school is loaded with fresh experiences and chock-full of excitement. It can also be filled with anxiety, particularly for young children or those transitioning to a new school.
Kids who feel uneasy about school may be reluctant to attend, or they might display their anxiety by acting out. You can help ease first-day jitters with some advance preparation.
Sync schedules. Kids will have an easier time adjusting to the new school year if their inner rhythms are in sync. Help ensure that they’ll be awake and alert for their morning classes by transitioning to a school-year bedtime and wake-up time a couple of weeks before school begins. Practice the morning routine of getting up, dressing and eating breakfast.
Preview new digs. Visiting the new classroom in advance can help quell kids’ worries. Even better, contact the school to see if they can meet their new teacher before school begins. Make sure they know where they’ll eat lunch and where they’ll get on the bus or where you’ll pick them up each afternoon.
Facilitate friendships. Help prepare kids for school-year socializing by arranging a couple of playdates with classmates and reminding them that they’ll be seeing their familiar school friends again soon.
Share back-to-school prep. Shouldering some responsibility for back-to-school preparations helps kids feel more empowered and excited about the big day. Arrange a fun shopping trip and allow them to pick out their own backpacks, shoes or school supplies. Let them check items off their school supply list, sort paperwork or plan lunch menus.
Practice routines. Talking too much about school contributes to pressure and first-day jitters. It’s more important to practice strategies than to talk about them. “Practicing new routines teaches them to children. Discussing them just makes children anxious,” says psychologist Edward Christophersen, PhD.
Stay cool. Kids pick up on parental anxiety, so if you’re nervous about your kids starting school, try to hide your feelings. Concentrate on enjoying what’s left of summer. Plan a late-summer trip or barbeque.
Be a role model. When kids see that their parents’ daily routine can be a source of fulfillment and fun, they’ll feel good about their school routine. And you can feel good about starting the school year off right.
Malia Jacobson is a freelance writer.