As summer comes to an end, many families are gearing up for a brand new school year. This transition often comes with a wide variety of feelings—excitement, anxiety, and anticipation are just a few. The whole family can feel anxious and stressed. Parents worry about getting the “back to school” shopping done in time, as well as the financial aspects of starting the new school year; meanwhile, children can be anxious about seeing peers whom they have not seen since June, wearing the right clothes, completing a more daunting amount of homework, and adjusting to new teachers, classrooms, and rules.
Here are a few tips to help the family stay calm and grounded as the new school year starts.
1. Learn how to identify stress and anxiety. Children can display symptoms of stress and anxiety in a multitude of different ways, depending on their age and developmental level. Children who are unable to verbalize their concerns often show it in other ways, such as trouble sleeping, irritability, tantrums, headaches, and stomach aches. Additionally, as a parent, it is important to be aware of your own body and how it responds to stress. Don’t forget to take care of yourself as well.
2. Get back into a routine as soon as possible. Creating stable bedtime and morning routines prevents confusion about the day’s schedule. It also helps parents better cope with last minutes issues that arise. For example, it is much easier to handle the last-minute news that your child needs to bring a dessert to class when you have already packed backpacks and lunches the night before. Getting enough sleep is key to success during the day for both kids and parents! Younger children especially do well with very specific routines, a specific bedtime, and a great deal of structure. For super-organized families, it can be helpful to plan out the entire week!
3. Exercise. Get the whole family involved in some sort of exercise routine. It is well established that exercise reduces symptoms of stress and anxiety. Have the family follow along with a yoga or meditation video, or go outside for a walk around the neighborhood, or have fun in a nearby park. Not only does exercising help everyone relax, but it also allows the family to enjoy quality time together!
4. Visualize your success. Sit down as a family and work out individual and family goals for the upcoming school year. Then visualize how you all can achieve these goals. It can be helpful to reminisce about last year’s successes—view photos on social media of important, fun, and positive moments during the last school year. Looking back on uplifting memories can remind you of the things that you enjoyed and help relieve feelings of anxiety about the transition.
Although the start of a new school year may seem intimidating and challenging, it doesn’t have to be. Use these tips to ensure that your family has its best year yet!