Back to School

It’s that time of year – Back To School!

And just like last year, this year is a little different. In person for the first time in over a year? Masks on? Masks off? New school? New teachers? New friends?

Even if nothing about your life has changed (same house, same neighborhood, etc) – school is different this year. New kids have arrived, and old friends have moved on. All of us have gotten older. Teachers and administrators have changed. Whole new schools have been built! Yikes!

It’s important to understand that with change, emotions might be heightened – for all of us – kids and adults alike. Tears might come more easily, our tempers might flare more quickly, and oh-my-gosh the exhaustion! This is totally normal! It takes time to get used to new routines, new bus routes, new class structure, and possibly new friend groups. Generally after a few weeks, we all settle into a routine and emotions return to a normal level.

For tips for managing Back to School blues, check out this article over at the American Psychological Association

If, after a few weeks, the stress and heightened emotions don’t subside, it might be time to seek help from a mental health professional. Even a session or two can be enough time to learn some new tools for dealing with school stress.

Back to School Stress Busters

Back to school clothes.  Back to school supplies.  Back to school parties.  They’re everywhere!  This time of year, you can’t escape the fact that it’s back to school time.  For some of us it’s a time of rejoicing.  For others of us (me) it’s a time of sadness (I always hate to see summer go).  For many it’s a time of stress and worry.

Back to school stress can arise for many reasons:

  • The start of a new school
  • Struggles with friends
  • Trouble with academics
  • Difficulty with classroom behavior
  • Hatred of homework
  • Fears of a new teacher

The good news is, many back to school worries can be managed in the days and weeks before the first day.  Here are some tips:

Practice the first day.  Many of us worry about the unknown. So why not take the guess work out of the first day? Pick out an outfit, get the back pack ready, make a trial lunch and drive to school – just to see what it will be like on the big day.  Many schools even allow nervous students a sneak peak into their classrooms before the official first day of school.  I often recommend this to families, as getting a glimpse of the school, classroom and teacher can do a world of good to the stressed-out student.

Talk about it.  This is one almost seems too easy to actually work – but it does!  Many of us hold in our fears and worries, allowing them to fester and grow.  Instead, allow your student a chance to talk through their thoughts about going back to school.  You might be surprised about what they are worried and excited about!

Keep expectations in check.  While having high and clear expectations can be a wonderful thing, going over them and over them right before school begins might be a breeding ground for stress.  Instead, enjoy the last few days of summer before hammering out expectations for homework, grades and extracurriculars.

For more tips on conquering back to school stress, check out these articles:

Back to School Lunches

Back to School Blues

Back to School Worries




Back to School Worries

Photo by: MerelyMel13

It’s not unusual for even the most confident kids to have worries associated with heading back to school.  New teachers, new expectations, new classroom – there are a lot of unknowns when entering a new school year.  Anxieties can grow even more intense when a child is starting a new school.  How can parents help?

Be Prepared.  Worries breed when we are unprepared.  Do you have a list of school supplies, clothing, and other materials that need to be purchased?  Try shopping well ahead of time so that you aren’t scrambling at the last second.  When you are prepared and relaxed – your kids will follow.

Dress Rehearsals are Good.  I’m a big fan of practicing events about which we are worried.  A few days or a couple weeks before the big day, try a dress rehearsal.  Have your child dress in their back to school outfit, eat a typical school day breakfast, pack their lunch, grab their backpack, and head off to school.  Make a fun event out of it.  If your school allows for a visit before classes start – do it!  It can help ease worried minds to be able to visualize the hallways and classrooms in which they will learning.

Don’t Say “Don’t Worry.”  None of us wants our kids to worry or be stressed.  So when your son says, “Mom, I’m nervous about the first day of school” most of us answer by saying, “It’ll be fine!  Don’t be worried!”  But in the interest of encouraging our kids to talk to us, a better response might be: “What are you worried about?”  This will give your child the opportunity to explain their worries, so that you can respond appropriately.  A conversation might go like this:

Child: “Mom, I’m nervous about the first day of school.”

Parent: “What are you feeling nervous about?”

Child: “I’m afraid I won’t know anyone with my lunch period and I will have to sit alone.”

Parent: “I can see why you’d be worried about that.  Let’s come up with some ideas about what to do if that happens.”

Child: “I don’t know what to do!”

Parent: “Could you sit with a teacher?  Sit next to someone else sitting alone?”

Child: “Yea, maybe I could sit next to someone else who’s alone.”

Parent: “Great!  Sounds like a good plan.”

Perhaps the most important thing about helping your child learn to manage worries is to check in after the first day is over.  See how it went.  Was there a reason to worry, or not?  How did they cope with the lunch room situation?  If the day was a success, use it to build confidence for the next worrisome situation.  If it wasn’t, try brainstorming more solutions for a better outcome.