Whether your children have already started school or are about to go back, they could be experiencing some back-to- school jitters. If it’s the first year in a new school, there is plenty of “new” to contend with—new environment, new peers, new teachers…even if they’re returning to the same school, a new teacher and a different mix of kids can cause anxiety. Here are five tips for helping your kids adjust to a new school and cope with these stressors.
I Hear You
You might feel like your child is whining or even wallowing in self pity, but right now what they need is your support. Let them know that you want to hear all about what’s bothering them, and assure them that you’ll listen without judgment. Even if you’re a tough-love parent, go easy on them for a couple weeks! Approaching this issue gently can establish trust.
Communication troubles? Sometimes feelings are hard to explain and anxieties are tough to identify. Try a role-playing exercise at home where you act out their day together, from the bus to homeroom to lunch to a class or two. This can help them pinpoint what is really bothering them, and give you the opportunity to address it. Make it fun: play the parts of the bus driver, teachers or students in a funny voice to lighten the mood.
If they’re at a new school and are having trouble making friends, act out friend-making opportunities that they might realistically encounter, like chatting with a science-lab partner or joining a child who is sitting alone at lunch.
Take a Tour
If the logistical challenges of a new school are causing anxiety, check with the school to see if there is a time before or after school when you can walk the building with your child. Just having you there will make them feel more comfortable, as will the opportunity to locate essential rooms without a sea of students to contend with.