It's that time of year again.
As the carefree days of summer come to an end, the countdown is on for the first day of school. Parents may be looking forward to that day, but children often deal with varying degrees of back to school nerves.
Follow these eight tips to help calm those jitters and make the transition as easy as possible for you and the kids.
We've all been there and experienced the nervous butterflies during the weeks leading up to the first day of school. While it may seem trivial, those feelings of anxiety are very real for children.
One of the best ways parents can help calm back to school nerves is to validate their child's feelings. Talk to them and let them know it's normal to feel nervous, scared, sad or even angry about starting school and changing routines. Let them feel and work through their emotions.
Once you've validated your child's feelings and have a better idea of what's going on in their head, you'll want to pinpoint what they're most anxious about and talk through it with them.
Some kids may fear making new friends or worry that the teacher will be mean. In the first scenario, you could practice conversation starters and role-play meeting new people. This will help your kids understand that it's not scary to introduce yourself.
You could also schedule some back-to-school playdates so your kid has a chance to meet new friends before school starts. That way, they know a few familiar faces before they get to the classroom. By pinpointing the root of their anxiety, you'll be able to address the problem head-on.
This helpful emotions wheel can help uncover the deeper feelings your children might be having about returning to school.
It's hard to transition from the summer routine of late nights and sleeping in to the school routine of early bedtimes and early mornings. To help children adjust to a new schedule and calm back to school nerves, start your new routine a few weeks before the first day of school.
Ensure the kids are winding down and getting into bed early. Then, wake them up at the time they'd need to get up for school. Structured routines can feel familiar and safe and help ease anxiety.
Clothing and outfit choices can be a source of stress for children and teens going back to school. Before school starts, take your kids shopping for some new clothes, backpacks and supplies.
This can help them feel prepared and get excited about school instead of dreading it. Let them choose which outfit they'll wear the night before so they feel confident the first day back.
Walking, biking or riding the bus to school can be fun for some children as they get to meet up with their friends. It can also be an anxiety trigger for some kids. To help them feel more comfortable with the commute to school, practice walking to and from school.
Show your kids the safest, most direct route to school and let them lead the way. Once they get to the schoolyard, help them find their way to their classroom. Then, practice walking home from school. If kids feel safe that they won't get lost, they'll be less stressed walking to and from school.
And if your children ride the school bus, practice what that will look like, too. You can introduce them to the bus driver, teach them how to get on and off the bus and show them where the bus picks up and drops off.
Familiarity is key for children. Before school starts, take them to the school to explore the halls, find the lunchroom, locate the bathroom and see their new classroom.
Some schools will host a back to school night, but if your district doesn't do that, call ahead and ask if you can tour the school with your children. This can help calm their nerves because they'll have a better idea of what to expect.
If your child is anxious about who the new teacher will be, reach out and ask if they can meet ahead of time. Some children fear that the teacher will be scary or mean and get worked up about it. If they can meet ahead of time, they'll get a better sense of what to expect and feel less anxious.
One of the best perks of summer is that the days are full of fun-filled activities. When school starts, the fun ends and the homework begins. After school starts, plan a mid-week fun activity for your kids to look forward to.
Whether it's going out for ice cream, playing at the park or seeing a movie, choose a fun, spontaneous activity that they'll enjoy and can look forward to. This can help keep the kids engaged and reduce anxiety.
Change is hard — for kids and parents alike. Parents can help their children adjust for the new school year by being patient, listening to their concerns and taking a few extra measures to ease the adjustment.