It’s normal for kids to feel nervous the first few weeks of school as they adjust to their new teacher and new routine. But back-to-school anxiety may persist for other kids, making the start to the school year shaky and unsettling for child and parent alike.
As your child adjusts to the new school year, here are six steps to calming back-to-school nerves and anxiety, from validating your child’s worries to sticking to a routine.
Breaking down back-to-school anxiety
Change can be hard, especially for a kid who struggles with anxiety. Potential triggers include separating from parents, academic challenges, interacting with peers, and simply getting used to new surroundings. While many kids worry about these things leading up to the school year, most feel settled within the first few weeks. According to John Hopkins Medicine, some red flags that your child is dealing with a bigger anxiety issue at the start of the school year include:1
- Tantrums or meltdowns when separating from parents or caregivers at the start of the school day
- Difficulty getting along with family members or friends
- Avoidance of activities and hobbies they previously enjoyed
- Physical symptoms like stomach aches, headaches, fatigue, and insomnia
First things first, check in with yourself
Before you can help your child, you must check in with yourself first. If you’re anxious about school starting, your child may pick up on this, which will only exacerbate their worries. Some parents can even make matters worse by offering excessive reassurance, or suggesting that your child stay home, sending the message that they are incapable of handling their worries on their own and setting up a habit of reassurance-seeking. When approaching your child with an attempt to help, be sure to do so from a place of calmness.
1. Validate your child
Resist the urge to dismiss or minimize your child’s worries. Instead, validate your child’s concerns by acknowledging how difficult it must be to face new challenges. Then express confidence in your child by letting them know how brave they are and how successful they have been in the past when facing new endeavors.
2. Set a routine from the start
One of the toughest things about starting something new is not knowing what to expect. Following a daily routine helps to take the guesswork out of the day and lays a foundation your child can count on. This includes waking up and going to sleep at the same time every day, doing homework after school, and eating meals at the same time, etc. Just don’t forget to leave time for relaxation, play, and family time.
3. Go over the school day schedule
Though you can’t control what happens when and where at school, you can help your child be prepared for their day by going over their schedule with them. Post the schedule somewhere accessible so your child is always aware of what’s coming next. If they are still uncomfortable, try accompanying your child when school is not in session to help them get more familiar with the new surroundings.
4. Encourage the basics: nutrition, rest, movement
When your child hasn’t eaten well, slept adequately, or exercised enough, anxiety levels tend to skyrocket.2 Be sure that the basics are covered before trying to problem-solve. As stated above, make sure you are prioritizing sleep and nutrition by having set wake-up times, bedtimes, and mealtimes. And be sure to schedule in exercise time, which doesn’t have to mean joining a sports team or hitting the gym. Even taking a family walk after dinner can give them the movement their bodies need.
5. Be available
Your job is not to shield your child from stress, worry, or nervousness. Your job is to show your child that they are capable of facing these feelings, however uncomfortable they may be. Make sure your child is aware that home is a safe place and you are a safe person to come to when these uncomfortable feelings arise and strategize together on how to make them more manageable.
6. Try homeopathic medicines
If you still feel like your child can use more support in dealing with their anxiety, try Brillia for Children. Free from harsh, synthetic chemicals and harmful side effects, this non-prescription homeopathic medication uses a safe and targeted approach to reducing anxiety by addressing the root cause of anxious feelings. Available in easy-dissolve tablets, Brillia will not cause drowsiness, nausea, or upset stomach like other anti-anxiety medications nor will it mask your child’s personality in any way. Suitable for children five and older and teenagers, Brillia works best in combination with healthy lifestyle factors like healthy nutrition, adequate sleep, controlled screen time, and mindfulness practices to set your child up for a stress-free start to the school year and beyond.
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