How to help your kids overcome back-to-school anxiety
With just days left before students across the country head back to school, some children may be feeling some anxiety about returning to the classroom. One psychologist recommends parents help alleviate their children's nerves by preparing for the upcoming school year together as a family.
Child psychologist Dr. Diana Garcia, from Capital Psychological in Ottawa, said it's natural for anyone to feel a bit nervous about starting a new routine and entering into a new environment, like a classroom.
But parents can help their children feel less anxious by familiarizing them with what's in store for them in the coming school year, she said.
Garcia recommends parents take advantage of school open-houses and meet-and-greets, so their child can get a preview of their new environment. If there are no open houses available, she recommends parents walk their child around the school yard and show them the different parts of the school building.
Another issue families often face around this time of year is re-adjusting to a back-to-school schedule.
"Most people have spent the last two to two-and-a-half months in a not-typical daily schedule," Garcia told CTV News Channel.
She recommends parents start implementing certain practices now, so that their child can have an easier transition back.
These practices include:
- Showing your child the route they'll take to get to school and back
- Getting them sleeping and waking up earlier
- Serving them a daily breakfast and getting them dressed at the appropriate time
- Having a family meeting to discuss what their fall schedule is going to look like
On this last point, Garcia said it's important for children to be able to have a say about their own schedule.
"Children will be more committed to the schedule, more committed to their bed-time, getting-up time and their activities if they're part of setting up that schedule," she said. "The more ownership they can take… the more they're going to buy into it."
She added that it's important to let your child know that feelings of anxiety over returning to school are "completely normal."
"Individuals can be both anxious about going back to school and the anticipation of everything that's new, as well as excited," she said. She said that one solution to settle those back-to-school nerves may be to have a family discussion, where the child can talk about how they’re feeling.
She recommends discussing all the positive experiences the child has to look forward to in the upcoming school year, as well as some of the negative experiences they may encounter.