If work had a bell signifying the end of the day, like it did back when we were in school, we’d likely leave with that same sense of glee as yesteryear. There’s no sound more freeing than the sound of that last bell kicking off summer vacation. And you probably remember that feeling of apprehension in late Summer when faced with going back to school. Aside from the usual end-of-summer blues we all felt, returning to school can bring additional stressors to your children – and yourself.
A lot of the anxiety about returning to school is driven by the fear of the unknown. For kids, the unknown can be daunting indeed, particularly if they’re starting at a new school. Navigating new social circles and trying to find your place in a hectic schoolyard is a tough task for anyone, let alone children. Add to that worries about if the new teachers are mean or too strict, or if there’s bullies lying in wait, and you can see why children are occasionally reluctant to get back in the swing of things once September is underway. Parents have anxieties of their own when school starts. Even aside from feelings of separation and worries about children being able to adapt, there can be concerns about paying for tuition, supplies, activity fees and new clothes and uniforms. This is a quintessential recipe for anxiety.
Fortunately, some simple preparedness and work can defeat much of this stress. The American Psychological Association offers several back-to-school tips that are easy to do and effective.
Get into the swing of things
The APA recommends parents and children keep up the volley of the Monday through Friday schedule. Be consistent with a solid sleep routine. Now with nearly a month of school under the belt, families should have a nightly regimen including organizing things the child needs – clothes, backpack, lunch – to facilitate getting out the door without a hassle come morning.
Becoming acquainted with neighbors who have children in the same school is also beneficial for carpool, a communication network and morale. If a child’s young, set up a play date. For older children, find places that are safe to hang out at, like recreation centers, parks or community pools. Keep the communication door open with the kids; actively listening to their anxieties. Empathize by sharing personal experiences at their age. If a child is starting at a new school, ask them about what they liked about their previous school and if those things can be applied to their new surroundings. New things aren’t necessarily bad, and convincing a child of this is a good way to stave off issues like avoidance.
Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Knowing how the school functions, any programs it offers and getting involved with fellow parents and teachers is a great way to build a support network for you and your family. Many other parents are experiencing the same concerns.
For additional help with back-to-school stress, the Anxiety Treatment Centers of California offer a wide range of resources for individuals feeling overwhelmed by feelings of stress, worry or fear. If you or a loved one needs help with stress, or if you’d just like to learn more about stress disorders and how to manage them, please contact one of our trained consultants either via live chat or at 855-972-9459.