Back to School Anxiety Tips
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 classroom nervousness and anxiety, from validating your child’s worries to sticking to a routine.
Dealing with Back-to-School Worries
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
If you notice your child is excessively worrisome or anxious, it’s important to talk with them to uncover the roots of their worries. Chances are, once they open up and start to verbalize what they’re feeling, the more empowered they will feel to face these challenges.
Tips for Parents of Anxious Children
Below, we’ll share six tips on how to handle back to school anxiety for parents, but if you feel like your child can use more support, you may want to consider medication. Free from harsh, synthetic chemicals and harmful side effects, Brillia is a non-prescription homeopathic medication that uses a safe and targeted approach to reducing anxiety. Available in easy-dissolve tablets, Brillia addresses the root cause of anxious feelings by targeting the brain-specific S100B protein, a key regulator of many different intracellular and extracellular brain processes and key marker of glial function.
Brillia will not cause drowsiness, nausea, or upset stomach like other anxiety medicines for kids nor will it mask your child’s personality in any way. Suitable for kids five and older as well as teenagers, Brillia works best in combination with healthy lifestyle factors like proper 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.
Ready to try Brillia?
1. Remember the Basics: Food, Sleep, Movement
When your child hasn’t eaten well, slept adequately, or released their pent up energy through movement, anxiety levels tend to skyrocket.2 Be sure that the basics are covered before trying to problem-solve. Starting with a solid routine, make sure you are prioritizing sleep and nutrition by having set wake-up times, bedtimes, and mealtimes. This keeps their circadian rhythm, or internal clock, aligned. Also 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 or holding an impromptu dance party in your living room can give them the movement their bodies need.
2. Validate Your Child & Encourage Them to Face Their Fears
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. One way to empower them is to teach them some mindfulness skills they can use when feeling fearful. This may include breathing exercises like the kid-friendly rainbow breath, journaling, progressive muscle relaxation, and positive self-talk. By helping them reframe their anxiety and counter it with actionable tools, you’re teaching your child that they are more powerful than their biggest fears.
3. Plan in Advance & Problem Solve
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. You can also take some time every night before bed to talk about the upcoming day. What are they looking forward to? What challenges do they anticipate? If there’s an upcoming test or an oral presentation, you can go over some mindfulness skills they can use beforehand to get them in the right state of mind. If they’re worried about forgetting something or being late to school, lay out their clothes and make sure their backpack is loaded up and ready to go to minimize any potential impediment.
4. Role Play With Your Child
Often used in therapy, role-playing challenging scenarios at home can help your child feel less anxious about them. This may include practicing worst-case scenarios like an unexpected presentation in class or forgetting their backpack at home. That way your child is more likely to think clearly in the moment and solve the problem at hand. Remember to role play when your child is feeling calm and not at the height of their anxiety. This will help them access these calm feelings again when feeling triggered. Be sure to model skills like mindful breathing or asking for help before the child practices on their own.
5. Encourage Routine
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. Studies show that having a routine is significantly important for children.3 A bedtime routine is associated with enhanced family functioning and improved sleep habits. Family routines have also been linked to stronger social skills and academic success. Even more, adherence to family routines has been identified as important for family resilience during times of crisis. When establishing your family routine, be sure not to forget about making time for relaxation, play, and family time.
6. Focus on the Positives & 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. And encourage them to make room for positive thinking. Keeping a gratitude journal is one way for them to shift their focus from what went wrong (or what could go wrong) to what went well (or could go well). Remind them of their unique skills, talents, and moments of achievement in the past.
Remember to Pay Attention to Your Own Behavior
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. If you feel like you have unaddressed stress and anxiety of your own, be sure to practice the same skills you’ve recommended to your child. Role playing is helpful, but so is being a role model. Eating well, getting enough sleep, exercising regularly–these are all things you can share with your child, ensuring the whole family is on the same page. There are also a number of mindfulness techniques you can practice as a family, such as group meditation, mindful walks, or even using a mindfulness app together.