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Coping With Back-to-School Anxiety: Back to School Checklist for Parents

Written by: Jasmine Forrest, M.A.
Coping With Back-to-School Anxiety: Back to School Checklist for Parents

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.

One week before school starts:

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.

A couple of days before school starts:

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.

The first day of school:

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!

Resource:
https://www.understood.org/articles/en/school-refusal-how-to-help-child