by Sara Dimerman
Now that we’re a few days into a new year at school, and the initial excitement has worn off, your child may still be dealing with some anxious feelings.
Below are the top five anxieties during the transition back to school and five tips to help back to school stress:
1. New beginnings.
Anxiety can run particularly high when a child is transitioning into a new phase or environment. So a four year old entering JK, a 6 year old entering grade one, a 14 year old entering high school may be more anxious than students moving between other grades. Acknowledging these feelings as being normal is very important. Remind your child that even teachers feel a little nervous at the beginning of a new school year, but that you’re confident that as the days go on, their anxiety will decrease.
2. A new teacher.
Most children experience a new teacher at the start of a school year. For some this can be exciting, especially if they have heard great things about the teacher. For others, a little more intimidating, especially if they’ve been forewarned. Remind your child that every person relates and perceives teachers differently and just because someone had had a negative experience, does not mean that your he or she will feel the same. Ask that he or she give the teacher a chance and at the end of a school day, ask your child to share two positive things about his or her teacher.
3. Meeting new students.
Again, for some this may be exciting. For others, meeting new students can be anxiety provoking, especially if your child feels that some of his or her closer friends will be distracted by the newcomers. Remind your child that the new kid in the class is likely feeling even more anxious about entering into a roomful of strangers and help your child think of ways that your child can take a leadership role in making sure that the new students feel welcome.
4. Being apart from you.
If you’ve spent lots of together time as a family over the summer months or if you’ve been able to spend extra one on one time with your child, he or she may need some getting used to being away from you for extended periods again. Remind your child that it’s normal to feel a little sad or anxious at being apart all day. Write little notes to put in his or her lunch box as a reminder that you are close by and that your thoughts are with him/her.
5. Extra pressure.
Back to school typically also means a return to extra curricular activities and homework. A sharp contrast to the lazy days of summer. Try to wean in after school activities and don’t over burden your child with too many. A child feels stress too and not enough time to unwind and catch his or her breath after school may lead to anxiety too.
Sara Dimerman has been a Therapist for over twenty years. She is one of North America’s most trusted parenting and relationship experts and the author of three books – ‘Am I A Normal Parent?’, ‘Character Is the Key’ and a book for couples – ‘How can I be your Lover when I’m too Busy being your Mother?’ Visit HelpMeSara.com and follow Sara on Twitter.