As the new school year approaches, it is a time of excitement for some and of worry and anxiety for others. Children and teens can find this time particularly stressful when changing schools or heading off to university or college. While each individual handles back-to-school differently, the following are a few tips to help decrease the stress when it comes to heading back to school.
- Get organized. You can get a better sense of being in control just by getting prepared. Together you can brainstorm things your child needs to do like getting their room ready for studying, pulling together the things they want to put in their locker, tidying away last year’s notes, and buying school supplies such as pencils, pens, calculators, binders, paper and a bag or backpack.
- Do one thing at a time. If you or your child finds all these things a bit overwhelming, it helps just to start by making a list of “to dos”. Then break things down into manageable tasks or group things together that you can do all at once.
- Be confident. Try not to worry about things that are out of your control like which teacher you will have, or about things that haven’t happened yet like how well you will get along with your peers. Instead, focus on the things that are within your control. Be confident in yourself and know that you can do it and will have a great first week of school.
- Take a breath. If you or your child starts to feel overwhelmed, then stop and take a breath. Try a long, deep inhale, hold it for a moment and then slowly exhale while you feel yourself relax. Repeat this a few times to give your mind and body a chance to get back into control.
- Ease into your new routine. Summer is often a time of reduced structure. While the transition back into a routine can be a challenge, parents and children of all ages may find it very helpful to start doing some little things the week leading up to the return to school like picking out clothes the night before, shifting bedtime back to where it needs to be and eating at regular mealtimes.
- Talk it through. If you or your child is struggling, it can help just to talk about whatever is troubling you. What are your biggest worries and concerns? Is there anything you can do now to reduce the concern or ease the transition? Talk about what might work best for both of you. Sometimes it is quite rewarding to be able to work together and solve a problem.
- Visit the school and walk around the property. Whether it is a new high school, college or university, going for a walk on the property or campus to get an idea of where everything is can reduce the unknown.
If the back to school stress is overwhelming your child or teen to the point that you are concerned about their emotions and behaviour, you may want to contact Front Door and talk to one of our knowledgeable counsellors about what services and supports are available.