It’s that time of year already – kids are getting ready to go back to school. And there might be some unknowns about what exactly this school year will look like, causing anxiety for both kids and parents.
How to Help Your Child Manage Back-to-School Anxiety
“There’s always the anticipation of starting something new,” said Tara Butler, Special Education Manager at the Mental Health Center of Denver’s Skyline Academy. “Kids might be wondering who their new teacher is, who’s in their class, if they’re wearing the right thing and if the day will feel long. And now we’ve added an additional layer with COVID-19.”
To manage some of the anxiety that comes with the unknown, start checking in with your child now. See where their anxieties are, if they have any. Think back to when you were in school and the anxieties and excitement you felt.
“Talk to your child not only about what they’re worried about, but what they’re excited about too. Help your student relish those things that they’re looking forward to and celebrate the excitements they have,” Tara said. “Students are incredibly resilient. And their resiliency is allowing them to bounce back and go back to school with excitement.”
Start thinking now about how your family’s routine will change when your child goes back to school.
“There’s a common misconception that when the school year starts, it’s just the students’ routine that changes, but it’s really the whole household’s,” Tara said.
Begin talking with your child about the new routine, and start inserting pieces into life now so that it’s not a complete shock. For example, start having your child wake up earlier in the morning or set an earlier bedtime.
“Some of these little things that we as adults might be flexible with can be harder adjustments for our kids,” Tara said.
Practicing Self-Care as a Parent
Like their children, parents might experience stress around what is still unknown as well, such as specific school policies and what might be different from the year before.
“It can really help to stay connected with the school and your community,” Tara said.
Find out how you’re going to get information from the school and your child’s teacher. See what resources are available in your community, such as school supply drives or ways to get meals. “Get involved in your community as you’re able to,” Tara said. “Being connected to your neighborhood can help you manage some of the pieces around going back to school.”