Summer’s Over Already? 5 Things to Help Reduce School Anxieties
It’s a been a long wonderful summer with good times and great memories. Now is the time when many kids begin to make adjustments as they transition back into the school year.
Over 1.5 million students in North Carolina will return to the classroom this fall, each one with their own anxieties. These concerns can range from issues such as:
- Which teacher will I have?
- Will he or she be strict?
- Will I be in class with any of my friends?
- Will my clothes look OK?
- Who will sit with me at lunch?
- What if I don’t get to the bus on time?
Although these worries are completely normal, it doesn’t make the stress related to them any less. What can we, as parents or guardians of school age children do to help make the summer to school year transition a little more stress free? Here are five things we can do to help our student make the transition from summer to school year.
- Take care of basic needs. Fears tend to become overwhelming when we are tired or hungry. Keep your student on a consistent routine of meals, snacks and sleep. Make sure they are receiving good nutritional foods and at least eight hours of sleep.
- Ask your student to share their feelings. If you see them showing signs of stress or fretting, ask them to describe how they are feeling. Reassure them that these feelings are normal and that every other student going back to school feels the same way. Set up a regular time to talk to your student without distractions so they can verbalize how they are feeling.
- Make a plan. Instead of just reassuring your student that bad things will not happen, challenge them to think of ways to problem solve. Teach them to ask questions such as “what is the worst that can happen” or “how would I handle this situation if it occurs.” A prepared student is a more successful student.
- Focus on the positive. Focus their attention on the exciting parts of school. Ask them what they are most excited about or are most looking forward to. Again, redirect them from the anxiety towards the excitement.
- Watch your own behavior. As parents or guardians of students, we too feel anxious about the start of school. How will this change our daily routine? Will my child get picked on? Will they have the right teacher that can best foster their learning style? Children take many cues from their parents. When discussing school, be cheerful and attentive. Share positive stories of your own school experiences.
As the school year rolls along and everyone gets settled in to the routine, anxiety and worry should begin to subside. Until then, praise your child for their bravery, ask pointed questions about how they handled their anxiety situations and listen intently to them discuss their day.
Sarah Solomon, LCSW is a licensed outpatient psychotherapist at Cone Health Behavioral Health at Kernersville