So many changes are coming for your child… a new teacher, a new schedule, maybe even a new school. As a parent of a child with anxiety, I can relate to how you are trying to ease their back to school fears.
You don’t want your child to struggle with being anxious, and you want them to enjoy school and flourish.
All kids deal with some level of anxiety, just some more intensely than others. So, whether your child struggles with minimal or more severe anxiety, these tips are great for all kids returning to school!
How to Discuss Your Child’s Back to School Fears
Talking with your child is the first thing to do when you know they are feeling anxious or worried about something. This article on the Family Education website gives four positive phrases to say to your child when they are nervous about returning to school.
4 Positive Conversation Starters:
- Tell me about your worries; I’m listening.
- It sounds like you are feeling nervous about ____.
- How can I help?
- Let’s list everything you are looking forward to this year.
Some ways are not helpful when talking with your child when they are anxious. For example, saying things like:
- “You’ll be just fine.”
- “It isn’t a big deal.”
- “There’s nothing to be scared of.”
These phrases dismiss your child’s feelings or make them feel that their feelings aren’t valid. The main thing you want to do is validate how your child feels and help them with strategies to deal with those feelings.
Strategies for Helping Your Anxious Child Ease Back to School Fears
Once you have talked to your child about their feelings about returning to school, there are additional ways you can help relieve anxious feelings.
- Call the school and ask to tour the building and practice your student’s schedule or see their new classroom(s).
- Drive to the school a few times
- Attend summer school in the building that your child will be attending in the fall
- Attend all open house events
- Look at teacher website(s) to see if there are pictures of the teachers to show your child
- Get in touch with the school counselor and visit them with your child so they know it is safe to talk to that person
- Help set up regular meetings with the school counselor and your child
- Help them find a friend that is in the same class(es) with them, so they have a familiar face
- Have them write down their feelings when they are worried if they do not want to talk about it
What to do if I feel like my child still isn’t coping well?
Sometimes you try “all the things,” and you still do not know what to do. Here is what to do next.
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Your Child May Need to See a Professional
If your child has an anxiety diagnosis, schedule an appointment to meet with their doctor or therapist.
Discuss your concerns about your child and ask for any additional ways you can try.
If your child isn’t already seeing a licensed professional, consider getting them counseling to help them work through their anxiety.
Ease Back to School Fears By Working With the School Staff
You can set up a meeting with your child’s school team (counselor, principal, teacher(s), and yourself) to see what additional support they can offer.
Consider a 504 plan for accommodations that your child may need for more intensive or documented support. This becomes increasingly important as they enter jr. high school with the number of teachers your child has.
If your child already has a 504 or IEP, consider asking for a team meeting to make any adjustments needed to help them succeed in the school environment.
What Helps Your Child With Anxiety Ease Back to School Fears?
All children are different. What helps one child may not help yours. So be sure to look at what has helped your child in past situations.
Taking the time to understand and address your child’s specific fears can help them feel more prepared and confident as they head back to school.
Taking these steps can help your child overcome back-to-school anxiety and thrive in the new school year.
What has helped your child? Share in the comments below.
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- Overpowering Effects Of Anxiety In Children
- How to Help Your Special Needs Child Transition to a New School
- Test Anxiety Strategies for High School Students (24 Proven Ways)
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