Calming Tips for the Kiddos

We are gearing up for Back to School here in the Northeast but we know many of friends have already started their school year. As an educator, I know first hand the jitters the Back to School season can bring. For some it is even anxiety producing and we want all kiddos to feel confident, prepared and calm as they head into school; whether it is the first or the last. We have been talking all things Back to School and have the best in trends to send you to the head of the class. These tips will show you show to ease back to school anxiety and help your kiddos have a smooth transition .

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Karen Stewart, MD, adult and child and adolescent psychiatrist for Kaiser Permanente in Georgia, offers her tips for reducing back-to-school anxiety.

Awareness of school-related stress: Get in the know.  It’s important to be aware of kids’ worries and know how to respond. Parents and caretakers play a critical role in helping children understand, manage, and overcome these worries. Make sure your child knows it’s normal to be nervous.

Find out WHY your child is scared: Find ways to open the lines of communication. It’s important to listen and show empathy. Younger children commonly worry about friends: Will they know anyone? Will they have anyone to play with or eat lunch with? If possible, help your child get to know or meet classmates before school starts with a play date at the park, or a group shopping trip for school supplies.

Also, be mindful of your own emotions: Are you stressing about gathering school supplies, schedules and time management?  Parental stress can be picked up by your child so stay calm, watch what you say, and show confidence.

Problem-solve and Plan: Children often seek reassurances that nothing bad will happen. Discuss any worries, and encourage your child to think of solutions for potential issues. When they are part of the solution, children feel empowered and have more trust. Role-playing can boost a child’s confidence and gives them an array of tools to help meet challenges with ease. 

Safety: School violence is also a cause for anxiety. Manage that worry with open conversations and having a plan of action, such as how to reach each other if there’s a shooting on campus. Touch base with your child's school district about safety plans in place.  Also reassure your child that school violence is not a frequent occurrence.

Drum up excitement: Talking about past positive school experiences can brighten your child’s attitude. Discuss your child’s strengths and talents. Then go shopping together for school supplies and let your child select some purchases. When children feel included, they are more likely to embrace changes, such as the start of the school year.  

Consistency: Get into a routine a week or two before school. A regular routine can ease anxiety and make the transition smoother. Start with going to bed early and getting up at the time they would for school.  

Familiarize: If it’s a new school, take a tour. Visit the classroom and point out the locations of key facilities, such as bathrooms, the cafeteria, and administrative offices. It is also a good idea to practice the route you'll take to school whether it be via foot, car or bus. Let the teacher or school counselor know if your child is very anxious. Many schools have systems in place, such as assigned peer buddies, to help your child’s transition.

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The first week: praise, reassurances, and resilience. Organizing everything together (don't forget the labels!)  a few nights before school begins can cut down on first-day jitters.

Younger children may feel comforted by bringing a special object to school that reminds them of home. For an older child, a reassuring note in a lunchbox can help them feel better. This is also a time to teach about mindfulness -- being more aware of the present moment. For more tips on being more mindful, try thisMindfulness can quiet a busy mind and ease anxiety.

After the first day or week, praise and reward your child for being resilient and brave during a significant transition. This is an opportunity to learn and practicing resilience, making kids more adaptable to change, and better equipped to handle adverse experiences. If anxiety continues. Don’t ignore behavior that persists well into the school year. Behavior to be on the watch for might include sudden poor sleeping or eating habits, refusal to go to school, or emotional outbursts.

Remember your school counselors, teachers and staff members can offer you and your child support, comfort and additional tips to reduce your child's anxiety. We wish you a happy and healthy back to school.

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This is not a sponsored post. Thank you to Kaiser Permanente for supplementing our list. 

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