September 8, 2023

Back to School Anxiety: Ways to Support Your Child’s Worries About School

Laura Gencarella Speech Therapist in Charlotte, NC

Laura Gencarella
Owner, Speaking Sensory LLC

Speaking Sensory speech therapy session in Charlotte, NC

The start of a new school year is an exciting time for many children, but it can also be a source of anxiety and stress. Whether your child is starting school for the first time, transitioning to a new grade, or returning after a long break, back-to-school anxiety is a common experience. As developmental therapists, we understand the importance of addressing these feelings and providing support to ensure a successful and positive start to the school year.

Here are some common ways you can help support your child’s anxiety about back to school:

1. Open Communication

One of the most effective ways to ease your child’s anxiety is to have open and honest conversations about their feelings. Encourage them to express their concerns and worries about school. Listen actively and empathetically without judgment. Sometimes, just knowing that they can talk to you about their fears can provide a sense of relief.

2. Visit the School Ahead of Time

Familiarity can help reduce anxiety. If possible, visit the school with your child before the first day. Walk around the campus, locate their classroom, and explore common areas like the cafeteria and playground. This can help your child feel more comfortable in their new environment.

3. Establish a Routine

A predictable routine can provide a sense of security for children. In the weeks leading up to the first day of school, gradually establish a school-year routine. This includes setting consistent bedtimes, wake-up times, and meal schedules. Having a structured daily routine can help your child feel more prepared and in control.

4. Prepare Together

Involve your child in back-to-school preparations. Let them help choose their school supplies, backpack, and lunchbox. Discuss what to expect during the school day and practice essential skills like packing their bag and getting dressed for school.

5. Discuss Fears and Problem-Solve

If your child has specific fears or worries about school, work together to find solutions. For example, if they’re worried about getting lost, help them create a map or plan a route to their classroom. If separation anxiety is a concern, discuss strategies for saying goodbye and reassure them that you’ll be there to pick them up.

6. Encourage Self-Care

Teach your child the importance of self-care. Encourage healthy habits such as regular exercise, a balanced diet, and sufficient sleep. These practices can have a significant impact on their overall well-being and ability to cope with stress.

7. Positive Visualization

Guide your child in visualizing a positive school experience. Encourage them to imagine making new friends, enjoying their classes, and feeling proud of their accomplishments. Visualization can help shift their focus from anxiety to excitement.

8. Be Supportive

Let your child know that you’re there to support them no matter what. Reassure them that it’s normal to feel anxious before school and that their feelings are valid. Offer words of encouragement and remind them of their strengths and abilities.

9. Seek Professional Help if Needed

If your child’s anxiety is severe or persists for an extended period, consider seeking the help of a pediatric therapist or counselor. They can provide specialized strategies and techniques to address anxiety and help your child develop coping skills.

10. Stay Positive

Maintain a positive attitude about the upcoming school year. Share your own positive experiences and memories from school to inspire your child. Emphasize the opportunities for growth, learning, and fun that school can provide.

Remember that every child is unique, and what works for one may not work for another. Be patient and adaptable in your approach to helping your child overcome back-to-school anxiety. With your support and guidance, your child can thrive and enjoy a successful school year. If your child continues to struggle with the transition of returning to school we are happy to help. Contact Us Today!

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