Helping Students Navigate Back-to-School Anxiety: Tips for Families
Aug. 16, 2023 - The start of a new school year can bring both excitement and apprehension for students, especially after the challenges posed by the previous year. It's not uncommon for students to experience back-to-school anxiety as they face new classrooms, teachers, and classmates. As a family member, your support and guidance play a crucial role in helping your student manage these feelings and start the year positively.
Behaviors that may suggest your student is experiencing extra anxiety around the return to school include:
- Tantrums or mood changes
- Significant changes in sleeping patterns or appetite
- Increased physical complaints, such as nondescript headaches and stomachaches
- Avoiding school-related activities or complete refusal to attend school
Here are some strategies to assist your student in dealing with back-to-school anxiety:
- Open Communication: Encourage them to express their thoughts and concerns about the upcoming school year. Create a safe space for them to share their worries and listen attentively. By acknowledging their feelings, you show that their emotions are valid and that you're there to support them.
- Establish Routines: Predictability can help alleviate anxiety. Work together to establish a consistent daily routine including study time, physical activity, and relaxation. A structured routine can provide a sense of stability and control, reducing anxiety levels.
- Focus on the Positive: Help your student shift their focus from potentially negative to positive aspects of the new school year. Talk about the exciting opportunities, new friendships, and interesting subjects they'll encounter.
- Manage Expectations: Address any concerns they may have about academics, friendships, or new responsibilities. By providing accurate information, you can help alleviate their worries and foster a sense of preparedness.
- Organize and Prepare Together: Involve your student in back-to-school preparations. Help them organize their school supplies, backpack, and any necessary paperwork. By involving them, you empower them and give them a sense of control over the situation.
Remember, each student's experience is unique, so it's important to tailor your approach to their specific needs. By providing a supportive and understanding environment, families can help them build resilience and confidence in facing back-to-school anxiety.
Resources for additional support:
- American Psychological Association - "Back to School Anxiety Can be a Stressful Time”
- Johns Hopkins University - “5 Tips to Ease Back-to-School Anxiety”
- Child Mind Institute - "Helping Kids Who Struggle with Back-to-School Anxiety"
- National Association of School Psychologists - "Back to School Transitions"
By utilizing these resources and implementing the suggested strategies, you can give your student the tools they need to manage their back-to-school anxiety and embark on a successful academic journey.