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Going back to school can be anxiety provoking for many children. These 12 steps can help with reducing feelings of anxiety and help your child feel prepared and less anxious about starting the school year.
1. Start your School Sleep Routine
Routines can be relaxed in the summer, so a week prior to school is a good time to adjust the family schedule to get everyone back into morning and bedtime habits. Start following the school waking and sleeping routine you would normally follow when school is in session. Get the whole family involved so that your child does not feel alone with these changes.
2. Promote Healthy Eating Habits
Eating healthy can help your child to better cope with feelings of anxiety and stress. You and your child can create a school lunch menu for the first week of school. Allow your child to help you plan your dinner meals. This can give your child a yummy dinner to look forward to.
3. Shop for Supplies
Make picking out school supplies a fun task!
4. Encourage Your Child to Share His or Her Fears
Set time during the day to discuss with your child about why they are feeling anxious about starting school. Assist your child in identifying what may be causing the anxiety and help them with problem solving those issues. You can do calming strategies such as deep breathing. Help your child identify positive things to look forward to on the first day of school and during the school year.
5. Do a Dry Run
Go to school several times – walking, driving, or taking the bus.
6. Tour the School
If it is possible allow your child to meet their teachers.
7. Plan the Outfits
Let your child pick out his or her favorite outfit for the first day of school.
8. Pack the Backpack
You and your child can pack their backpack the night before including any treats or special objects that can help your child feel less anxious at school.
9. Choose a Special Object
For younger children who are nervous about separating, suggest taking a special object (ex. picture or small toy) to school that reminds him or her of home.
10. Walk with a Friend
Try and arrange that your child walks with a friend to school for the first couple of days. Arrange play days with school mates leading up to the first day.
11. Talk to the Teacher
Let the teacher know that your child is having some separation anxiety.
12. Praise and Reward
Most importantly, praise and reward your child for brave behavior!