After the last year we’ve all been through, back to school has taken on a whole new meaning for our children. With so many changes, it’s normal to feel anxious or stressed about returning to school in-person. Here are a few ideas to keep in mind when helping your child navigate the school year
One way to minimize stress and anxiety going into the new school year is to create a structure for your child. Having a consistent structure and routine can help create clear expectations and a less stressful morning routine. Encouraging a consistent bedtime (including time to wind down before bed) will ensure that your child gets adequate rest through the night, so they feel ready to tackle the day! If you can get into a consistent routine at night, that will help the mornings run more smoothly. In the mornings, make time for breakfast and utilize a backpack checklist to help your child bring everything they will need to be successful at school.
The role of a parent or caregiver is a very important one in a child’s life. They look to the adults around them to set the tone. For that reason, it is so important to model a positive and flexible attitude during these big transitions in life. Your child is more likely to feel secure and capable of tackling this new school when the adults do too. Lead by example and show them that flexibility and a positive attitude is not only important but needed to get through these big changes.
There are plenty of reasons to be nervous about the new school year. From being out of practice with routine to safety concerns related to COVID; your child is likely having some big feelings around going back to school in-person. Give your child the opportunity to discuss their concerns and validate how they’re feeling. It can be reassuring to remind them that not only are you there to support them, but the school is there for them too. Teachers, counselors, school social workers, etc. all play a role in your child’s success at school. Knowing when and who to ask for help and support can make all the difference during this challenging new school year.
- Be present
Being present with your child during these times is so important for creating a sense of safety and security. Spend some time on a regular basis to check in with your child about how school is going. Ask them what their favorite part of the day was or what they are most looking forward to this week. This will open the conversation up to discussing the positive changes as well as process any big feelings they may be having. Help your child recognize the ways in which they’ve been successful in handling stress in the past and encourage them to utilize those same skills during this transitional time. Some children may be experiencing higher levels of anxiety than usual; spend some time practicing deep breathing with your child so they can utilize these skills in times of high anxiety or stress. Deep breathing exercises can create a sense of calm in both body and mind.
One of the biggest (and most positive) changes happening this school year is the amount of socialization that your child can have! This can be a great opportunity for your child to feel supported by peers in and out of the classroom. Encourage your child to get involved at school and with friends (in COVID friendly ways, of course!) doing activities that they have an interest in. Whether that be participating in class as much as they can or signing up for clubs and extracurricular activities that highlight their interests or talents.
- Join our Back-to-School Group!
If you or your child feel extra support during this transition to in-person school would be beneficial, consider joining our back-to-school group! This group will focus on many of the things discussed above, processing concerns, exploring the use of coping skills, and addressing stressors in the school setting. The group setting will help to increase socialization skills and create a support system for your child. This 6-week group will start Tuesday, September 7th from 5:30-7PM. Please reach out if you are interested in joining!