Liz Pearce, ParentTalk
For some kids, school can be a tense and fearsome place. Here are some tips for parents:
1. Acknowledge the problem. Let your child know that lots of kids are anxious about the first few days of school. Even though the building may be the same as last year, there are a lot of unknown factors and new situations.
2. Ask, "What three things are you most worried about?" Helping your child focus on just a few worries can be a way of slowing down a brain on overdrive. It’s likely that his anxieties may center on one or two fears, with various situations.
3. Do some role-playing. Once you have some concrete examples of anxiety-provoking events, help your child figure out an alternate way to deal with them. Discuss possible scenarios and play the part of your child in some role-playing exercises, letting him play the part of the demanding teacher or bullying classmate.
4. Understand the value of tears. Crying can be a great stress reliever. It flushes out bad feelings and eases tension. It's hard to see your child crying, and your first instinct may be to help him stop as soon as possible. But after the tears have all come out, your child may be in a particularly open and receptive mood for talking and sharing.
Calming your own Back-to-School Anxiety – for parents
1. Update the family calendar –together! Gather everyone and their school calendars, and get your kids involved. Have them hunt for dates, or for the younger set, numbers, and load up the calendar with due dates and special events.
2. Establish a workable morning routine for yourself, and allow an extra 15 minutes until everyone gets the hang of it. Be patient with each other – it’s likely that everyone is stressed and anxious for the first month of school.
3. Organize a communications center near the back door. Set up an “in-basket” for papers and forms, and an “out-basket” that gets checked each morning. Put backpacks, shoes and coats here.
4. Practice saying “no”. You’ll be asked to volunteer for more jobs than you can successfully achieve. Pick one or two, try to space them out over the year, and let others share the volunteer jobs.
5. Put a small notepad and pen by your bedside. That will help with those middle of the night nagging thoughts that keep you awake. If you wake up in the middle of the night, write it down, and go back to sleep.
Lastly, enjoy the last few days of summer, and renew your energy over the long weekend! You can do this - I know you can!