Tips and Ideas for Helping Kids with Back to School Anxiety Includes Free Printable PDF


“Summer should get a speeding ticket”


As summer draws to a close and the beginning of the school year creeps closer to us I always find myself filled with a sense of melancholy. The days are getting shorter, the nights and days getting cooler. Another summer dwindling. I find myself reflecting over the dog days of summer and filled with a bit of anxiety myself.

The non-rushed mornings, the unscheduled days, staying up later, doing whatever our little hearts desire, soon replaced by rushing from here to there and what feels like a bit of chaos at the moment with the pandemic.

Working in the public school system I experience first hand what anxiety in kids looks like. It is prevalent. My own child also suffers from anxiety. In my experience it can look different in kids but that doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Some kids will express it outwardly at school, others will bottle it up inside all day until they get home where they feel safe and then explode, my child being the latter.

The one thing across the board that all of these kids need is support and needing to feel safe. They need to feel heard.

Tips to Assist Your Child/Youth Cope with Back to School Anxiety

  1. Get back into a regular routine prior to school starting. A couple of weeks before going back to school, begin to get back on track with an earlier bedtime and getting up earlier so that the first day of school and the first week ins’t a battlefield. This will really help so your child isn’t sleep deprived. Sleep is so beneficial in dealing with anxiety. Make sure your child is eating a balanced diet, minimize sugar and fatty foods and incorporate lots of fruits and vegetables and whole foods.
  2. Talk to your child. Go for a walk or a drive where your child doesn’t feel in the spotlight and ask them what they feel worried about in returning to school. Don’t try to come up with solutions at this point, just actively listen. Repeat back to them what they’ve said to show you are listening. Allow them to feel heard.
  3. Come up with a plan. After listening to your child and their concerns about returning to school, sit down and come up with a plan. One thing that has been very helpful for my own child has been role playing. When he has anxiety about ‘things that could happen’ we role play to practice dealing with different scenarios he’s worried about happening. This gives him the confidence to handle different situations and practice in what he’d like to say and how he’d like to act without the pressure.
  4. Be loving and supportive, but firm with boundaries. It’s important that your child attends school. This is where they will grow and learn and facing their anxieties allows them to flourish and move forward. Giving in to their tantrums and allowing them to stay home doesn’t teach them that they can handle their fears and struggles. They will build confidence by facing them. Let them know that you hear them and allow them to talk to you about what they are feeling but let them know they still have to go to school.
  5. Build their confidence and build a positive attitude. Our counsellor came up with this great idea for building self-esteem, acknowledging daily strengths + successes. It can be done daily at a meal or on a family walk. You can write these or similar questions on slips of paper and then take turns responding. One per day is enough and give as much detail as possible including how it felt:
  • Something I did well today..
  • Today I had fun when…
  • I felt proud when…
  • Today I accomplished…
  • I had a positive experience with…
  • Something I did for someone…

Free Tips for Back to School Anxiety PDF Download

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