Back to school can be easy breezy, or it can be full of anxiety and bumps in the road. Just in case your road is looking a little bumpy, here are some helpful tips to get you through.
- Begin to establish your routine early. Get your kids going to bed on time and waking early to save yourself serious grouchiness on the first day of school. Our bodies and minds take time to adjust to routines. If your kids (or you) have been staying up later and sleeping in it will take time to get used to being up earlier. Get started ASAP in order to have peaceful, easy mornings this school year. Just kidding, those don’t exist, but this will make it easier!
- Have an open conversation. Ask your kids how they are feeling about the new year, do they have any questions or worries? Is there anything that would help them feel more prepared? Talk to them about what to expect so the transition isn’t jolting to them.
- Address any worries. As a parent it is easy to hear our kids’ worries and use the old classic “there’s nothing to worry about.” Shockingly, that doesn’t help! Talk your kids through the worry, see if there is anything you can do to address the concerns ahead of time.
- Can you walk around the school so your child is familiar?
- Can you contact an older child who can talk to your child about what to expect?
- Work with your child on coping skills to calm those first day of school nerves.
- Create transitional objects to ease separation anxiety.
- Send little notes with lunch
- Use those rubber bracelets to remind your kiddo that you’re thinking about them. You can both wear one so they know you’re thinking of them too!
- Put a family picture in their backpack or notebook
- For kids with negative attitudes towards school here are a few common things I hear and how I address them (please note all of these conversations occur in an understanding and empathetic tone!):
- I want to stay home and play with friends- all your friends will be back in school! If you stay home, you’ll just be hanging out by yourself and it won’t be as fun as you think!
- School is no fun, all we do is work- Can you think of a few things you like about school? Someone you’re looking forward to seeing?
- I hate school- After exploring for serious issues (bullying, learning differences/disabilities) I discuss with children how this attitude is a choice. We talk about how school is somewhere they will be for many years, so why not make it a positive experience? We brainstorm how we can adjust our thinking to make it better (instead of “I suck at math” how about “I’m going to try my best and let that be enough”).
- Homework stinks- We discuss how homework prepares us for the grown up task of doing things you don’t want to do. If we spent our whole childhood doing only what felt good, adulthood would come as a crazy shock. I tell kids all the time that I love my job so much and am so lucky to do it every day, but I HATE writing session notes. Unfortunately, that is a legal and ethical requirement of my job. Doing homework, classwork, or subjects they don’t like is preparation for moments like these. It gets us ready for real life!
Hopefully these tips make back to school a bit easier for your family! Sending you all wishes for an easy fall and a fruitful school year!
Abby Withee is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist practicing in Rolling Hills Estates and Redondo Beach. With a focus on mindful practices, Abby works with children, adolescents, adults, and families to address a variety of diagnoses and presenting issues. For more resources, check out her blog!