As summer comes to an end, you may notice your kids asking more questions about going back to school. The start of a new school year may also bring on a case of butterflies about all the upcoming changes.
Kids may feel worried about having a new teacher, finding friends to sit with at lunch, or if they will find friends at all.
How can you tackle the back to school butterflies?
Getting back into the school routine is challenging enough without your child experiencing those back to school butterflies and for parents trying to help their kids navigate the stresses of going back to school it can be confusing territory.
While managing worry is not one size fits all, there are several techniques that you can use to help ease the transition back to school…
1. Find ways to create stability:
Most families become comfortable in their summer routine, so the back to school shift can feel like a hard adjustment. Creating a stable, predictable routine will help to reduce worries.
- Try to emulate what a regular school day will look like for the whole family for at least one week before they go back to school.
- Wake up, eat, and go to sleep at regular times.
- Include practicing the drive to school or the walk to the bus stop.
The more worried your kids seem to be, the longer they will need to adjust to their new schedule.
2. Go beyond reassurance:
Children often look to their parents for reassurance that nothing bad will happen at school. So instead of just saying “Everything will be fine!” try to create a plan with your child about what they could do if something did go wrong.
- Address their specific worries.
- Come up with a few ways they could solve these problems should they encounter them.
- For example, if your child doesn’t know where to sit at lunch, draw a map of the lunchroom and discuss some possibilities!
3. Pay attention to how you react:
Kids look to their parents when they are worried for ideas on how they should react. If you appear overwhelmed or nervous, they are likely to follow your lead.
- Find ways to show your kids that you are feeling calm and confident about the new school year.
- Say a strong and cheerful goodbye.
- If the goodbyes turn into a tantrum, try to problem solve what they need instead of allowing them to avoid saying goodbye and going to school.
- You can even enlist the help of their teacher if needed!
4. Try to find the positives:
Encourage your kids to try to find the positives in the midst of their worries.
- Find three things that they are excited to do the first week of school.
- Have them plan their favorite lunches for the first week or lay out the outfits they are most excited to wear.
- Praise and reward them for any brave behavior they show, no matter how small!
Author: Laura Lebovitz, LMFT