Easing back into the New Year: Tips to reduce back-to-school stress and anxiety
Back to school stress and anxiety is completely normal. Your kids (and even you) may be stressed as you try to adjust to a more rigid routine again and get back into the swing of things. Although these feelings are normal, there are sure-fire ways you can make it easier on yourselves; these are our top tips!
2020 (we’re sorry to bring it up) was a difficult year for people around the world. It was a year filled with high levels of stress and anxiety for various reasons and we do not want a repeat of that this year! We’re going to do everything we can to ensure you and your family have a stress-free (as much as possible) year.
Let’s take a look at how you can help your kids feel confident and excited about starting the school year again rather than nervous and panicked!
Tips for Dealing With Stress and Anxiety
Before our tips begin, something important that you need to consider is creating a safe space for your kids so they feel that they can easily talk to you when they’re feeling anxious. Make sure to listen without judgement or criticism and validate the way they feel. It may sound like, “but mom, I don’t want to go to school” but what they could mean is that they’re feeling nervous to go back.
Sometimes expressing their feelings is all a child needs to feel better. Let’s get into how you can help them!
A couple of weeks before school is set to start, start preparing. Make sure your kiddies have lunch boxes and water bottles. Create charts for extra-mural activities or chore lists so they have more structure to their days.
Create a quiet and dedicated homework area so they know exactly when and where it’s time to do some work.
Pro tip: if your children have been sleeping later than usual during the holidays, gradually start waking them up earlier so by the time school mornings roll around, they won’t feel exhausted in the mornings.
Create a comfort zone
One of the biggest reasons children feel anxious about going back to school is that they don’t know what to expect. A lot has changed at schools especially due to the coronavirus pandemic so you must keep up-to-date with the new rules and regulations implemented by both the government and your child’s school.
This way you can let your kids know what to expect and prepare them for anything they have to do or wear. Make sure your little one knows they are free to ask you any questions they may have to make them feel comfortable.
Consider taking a drive to the school before it starts to remind your kids of the route and get them familiar with the feeling of going back to school.
The vibe you give off and the way you feel has an impact on your children. Be conscious of what you say about heading back to work and then heading off to school.
Remind your kids about why school is so great and that they’ll have so much fun! Some positive affirmations you can say:
- “You’ll learn loads of new things and participate in extramural activities”
- “We get to go shopping for new uniforms and school supplies!”
- “You get to spend every day with your friends again”
- “You get to hang out on the playground during break time with everyone”
School has endless opportunities for fun and the more positive you are, this will start to rub off on them too!
Remind them that feeling anxious is normal
Make sure your kids know they aren’t alone. Remind them that their friends are probably a little nervous too and that this feeling is totally normal. Maybe even let them know that you also used to get a little anxious for your first day too.
Remind them that their teacher knows students are a little anxious when school starts and will make sure they are comfortable and well-adjusted.
Keep in mind that the pandemic may have made feelings of isolation and loneliness a lot worse in kids. This is especially true if they have been cut off from their friends and peers for long periods of time. A great idea would be to set up play-dates so your kids can meet up with their friends again before school starts so they can feel less anxious about seeing them.
Be there for them
During the first couple of weeks of school, try to be around as often as possible for your children.
Right before school starts and during the first days back, try to fetch your kids from school and then stay at home with them. This way they know you’re there to support them if they need it. If your job makes it a little bit difficult to do this, try to ensure that you're able to drop your child off at school as well as be there after school if you can.
When your kids are home with you, try to focus more on them and be completely present. Avoid being on the phone or running errands. By giving your little ones more attention, you will help them feel more secure and reassured.
Promote a healthy lifestyle
Now we know that holidays can mean that you’ve been a little less strict on bedtime schedules or what your kids eat but it’s a good idea to change this before school starts.
Getting enough sleep and eating healthy food is important for your children’s brain function, moods, and the ability to focus and pay attention in school.
Find fun activities for your kids to burn off some extra energy so they don’t feel any pent up frustration. You could take them to the park (make sure to keep a close eye on them), take them swimming or let them have play-dates with friends.
Know when outside help might be necessary
You know your child best.
If you feel that the stress and anxiety your child is feeling isn’t solely based on going back to school then make sure to have an open conversation with your child about their feelings. Chat to your child’s teacher, the school counsellor and if need be, a child psychologist.
COVID-19 has had an impact on many people including children so you may notice a change in your kids. It’s important to get them any help they need, it is never shameful to seek additional help.
Our advice to you as a parent
Breathe. We know that going back to school is just as hectic for you as it is for your kids so relax and take a breath.
Make sure you are taking care of yourself and that you are eating and getting enough sleep and exercise.
Remember, any anxiety or stress you or your child may be feeling is only temporary. With the way that time is flying, you’ll be adjusted and deep into your school routine before you know it!
Yours in affordable and quality health insurance,