These last three years have raised anxiety for students in a way that we have never seen before. Not only are students worried about who their teacher will be or where they will sit on the first day of school, they now also worry about contracting viruses and active school shooters.
1. Start adjusting your schedule a few weeks in advance
The summer schedule and the school year schedule can look very different for many students. My son’s bus arrives at 6:15 am during the school year. That means he has to be up at 5:30am. This is a drastic change for a kid who has been sleeping till 8am each day over the summer. So, as the first day of school approaches we start bumping up bedtime and getting him up earlier in 15 minute increments.
2. Talk and reflect
Talking about the first day is often extremely helpful. This might involve going over the schedule. It should also include asking your child open-ended questions. Such as, “What are you looking forward to on the first day?” or “What do you think will be challenging?” Also, reflecting on what has gone well during the first week of school in prior years. This helps children remember that they have had success in the area before and can do it again.
3. Do a test run
Take time out to go by the school and visit the building. During this time you can identify entrances and exits. Play on the playground if it is available. For many of us, being familiar with the space we will be in can reduce anxiety greatly.
4. Identify the signs of a more serious problem.
Many children experience nerves in the coming weeks before school. Parents and other caregivers should also be aware of warning signs that indicate excessive anxiety. Some of these signs include changes in eating habits, problems sleeping, excessive clinginess, increased irritability, social isolation, tantrums, or headaches. If any of these behaviors persist longer than two weeks, consult a professional. Many children can work through back-to-school anxiety. However, when anxiety interferes with daily living, it’s time to seek help.
If you decide to pursue step 4, find a therapist that specializes in working with children. At Transformation Counseling & Consulting, PLLC, Miyesha Swayne, LCSWA has joined the team to work virtually with students experiencing depression and anxiety. You can learn more about Miyesha and her expertise by visiting her staff page on our website.
Nicole is a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor with over 20 years experience helping adults and children with overcoming trauma, managing life transitions, and developing coping skills. She is specialized in working with anxiety, depression, trauma, life transitions, and developing effective parenting skills with women and children with trauma concerns, anxiety and depression. Nicole provides a caring, non-judgmental mental health service for children (5-12), adolescents (13-18), and adults (18+) where she draws techniques from a variety of therapy models depending on the client’s needs. Nicole most often uses Cognitive Behavior Therapy and Client Centered treatment the most. She is founder of Transformation Counseling & Consulting, PLLC where she sees clients.
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