Make Back to School Less Stressful with These Tips
With the final few weeks of summer slipping away and camp coming to a close, it’s back to school time! For some children, however, this is a stressful time. There are so many brand new experiences in store: new teachers, new classmates, and sometimes even new schools. Here are some tips if your kids are apprehensive about what they’ll face in the new school year:
- First, ask your child how they feel about going back to school. Let them talk through their worries. Reassure them that things are going to be okay, but make sure not to dismiss their concerns. Say “If X happens, what will you do about it?” instead of just “It’ll be fine!” Go into detail. Talk through plans of action. It’s hard to remember things will be fine when you’re anxious and scared.
- Try role playing or create a social story. Social stories are strong visual guides to social interactions, new situations and intimidating behaviors. Go through their day and what they’re likely to be doing. Don’t forget to include whatever back to school steps they have to take, how to talk with new classmates and teachers, and what to expect in the classroom. Suggest things for them to say to their classmates (like what they did during the summer) and other ways to reach out and make new friends.
- Break in new shoes and clothes beforehand so there are no problems with negative sensory feedback. And don’t forget to include backpacks and lunchboxes in this test. Straps can be uncomfortable and itchy. Better to know beforehand if there is a problem with your child’s school supplies and clothes to limit the possibility of tantrums before school.
- It helps to create and stick to a routine. If your child knows what to expect before school, it will be a less stressful experience. For example: make a routine of bedtime, wake up time, breakfast, tooth brushing, hair brushing, getting dressed, putting on shoes/coats/backpacks, and getting out the door. It’s especially important to have a sleep routine since a well-rested child is one more well-equipped to face the school day.
- If you are able to, take your children to their school before the first day of class and help them find their classrooms, lunchrooms, gyms, and bathrooms so they know where to go and what to expect when school starts.
- Save time by getting clothes, school supplies, backpacks, and snacks ready the night before.
- Plan extra time in the morning so you’re not rushing.
- Get your children to bed early the night before so they will be well rested for the first day.
- Finally, let their teachers know if your child needs extra help or is prone to anxiety. Teachers are there to help and they will find it easier to relate to your child if they know what to expect.
Remember, the back-to-school season doesn’t have to be stressful if you plan ahead.