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Back to School

Calming school year jitters

By Rick Edwards, MA, LPC

The start of school can bring a mix of both excitement and apprehension. Many kids will show some anxiety about the new school year as they enter school for the first time, go to a new school or move from one level of school (elementary) to the next (middle).

Parents experiencing mixed feelings (e.g. guilt, fear or anxiety) about sending their child to school can influence their child’s feelings. How a child or teen views the experience of school is influenced by both the preparation and the attitudes of the parents.

Here are some helpful things parents can do to prepare their child for the first day of class:

  • Show interest, be supportive and encourage the child/teen.
  • Tell your child about what to expect (i.e. naps, snacks, show and tell for the little ones; negotiating lockers and changing classes for the teens).
  • If possible, take your child to school prior to their first day so they can get used to the layout (where their classroom is, the location of the restrooms, cafeteria, and playground).
  • Attend the open house (often scheduled before the start of school) so both you and the child have an opportunity to meet the teachers, principal and staff.
  • Riding the bus can be both an adventure and challenge. Teaming up with a friend in the same class or having an older sibling assist the younger one can be helpful. Carpooling with another neighbor classmate can ease the move between school and home and make the transition into a new setting easier.
  • Work to make the “getting ready for school” ritual at home as stress free as possible. Have backpacks, clothes and lunches ready the night before. By having the child help with preparation, you demonstrate your ongoing interest in their well-being.
  • Finally, let your child, or teen know it’s normal to feel nervous or apprehensive about the new school year. For younger ones, a favorite family picture or a note tucked into the lunch will bring comfort. For teens, phone numbers, emergency contacts and expressing your belief in their ability to succeed can make all the difference.

Originally featured on the MySA.com Health Channel.

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