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Is your Child struggling with back to School Anxiety?

By: Madison Wolfe-

Returning back to school can be fun and exciting for some kids, and for others, it can be troublesome. If your child is anxious for the first day back, there are a few things you can do to assist them to navigate their first few days back. For kids who have difficulties in school, their difficulties may not go away. We can prepare them for both the exciting aspects of school as well as the challenging ones that come along with it. 

Getting back into the routine

Creating a sense of routine could be challenging. Preparing for school can help children prepare by starting their end of the day and morning routine. Re-establishing bedtime schedules and setting alarms may take a few days to get consistent. Practicing what their mornings will look like can help kids and their parents prepare for the school year ahead. This should include getting out of bed, morning routines like using the restroom, brushing their teeth, combing their hair, choosing an outfit, and eating breakfast in the morning. 

Pre-school work:

Doing some test runs can help prepare your child for their upcoming classroom. If your child is nervous about returning to school, it may be beneficial if you can reach out to the school and see if you can walk around together to locate their classrooms. Meeting their teacher before school starts can help them. You should praise your child for even the smallest accomplishments to ease their back-to-school worries. Even driving to school and pointing out where the drop-off area is can help them become more comfortable with a routine. 

Post-school work:

Establishing time to work on homework may be overwhelming. Kids like to come home and unwind from a busy day at school, who could blame them? Setting a timer at the same time every day can help create a routine. This will encourage your child to turn off the TV, put down the games and come in from playing outside to get ready for the following day’s work. Using role play can help build a familiar routine of experiencing the school day.  

Signs to look out for:

If you feel like your child may not be OK, there are several things to look out for that may be a sign that your child might be struggling. 

  • Academically- Are their grades OK? Are they communicating with their teacher or guidance counselor? 
  • Avoidance: Does your child have a stomachache? Are they avoiding a specific class or teacher?
  • Behavioral- Are they having trouble sleeping? Are they crying? Do they have different friends? 

You can always help your child by establishing an honest dialogue. A good model to show is, “I see this……, how is this going for you?” It’s a helpful model to give your child a space that’s non-judgmental so your kid could feel comfortable telling you about their day. 

Expect the unexpected

Many parents may also feel the effects of their children returning to school. Unfortunately, life sometimes doesn’t count for the things we don’t prepare for. If we expect the unexpected, things may not come as a surprise.

Children are not a “one size fits all.” Your child may have differences from their previous years of school. It’s critical to be prepared, open up dialogue, and provide support for each child to feel safe.

There will be moments of anxiety and moments of irritability. It’s a process. One day may be successful, but the next may be an epic failure.

Just remember to tell yourself, “This wasn’t great but that’s OK.” Failures can happen along the way and your child can still be successful. 

If you feel that you and/or your child may need extra support during the back to school process, give us a call. One of our experienced child/parent therapist is available to help you make the best of the Back to School rush.

Written by Madison Wolfe

Madison Wolfe, Psychotherapist at Family Therapy Group of Weston

From Madison's bio...

Madison credits her warm, relatable, caring and welcoming but straightforward approach as one of her best attributes. She is able to provide a safe space for her clients to effectively communicate their struggles while learning new tools to manage them. Madison feels that her own experience with a family member who struggles with mental health issues has helped her to see the struggles from a sibling point of view, parents point of view and the individual point of view.

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