Back to school is coming, making this a difficult time of year for families with anxious children. Here are a few ways to ease your child’s anxiety about the school year, and help them get excited for all that is to come!
1. Involve them in school supply shopping
Gather all school supply lists together and, if necessary, get in touch with teachers to see if there are any specific requests or requirements for your child. First, take an inventory of what you already have to see what you really need to buy. Then, take the time to go with your child to look for school supplies, and ask if they have anything they really want. Perhaps your child loves taking notes in different colors with pens around the house, and getting them a set of multi-colored gel pens will help them look forward to taking notes in bright, fun colors. If they are really creative, it might be fun to try some DIYs to personalize the basics. By starting early with school supply shopping, you’re helping them gear up for the school year and giving them at least a few things to get excited about!
2. Reassess family roles and child expectations
Before everyone gets swept up in the busyness of those first few weeks of school, talk with your family and who is responsible for what once school starts. See what your children envision for themselves! Maybe they want more control over when they do homework, or need help finding a place to study in quiet away from siblings. Ask what they need to be successful in the upcoming school year, and really listen to their answers. Brainstorm with them about ways they can achieve their goals, and talk to them about any new responsibilities you would like them to take on (like doing their own laundry or packing their own lunches). Having this conversation calmly as a team can prevent lots of stress later on!
3. Encourage friendships and social involvement
One of the most tried-and-true ways to get kids excited for school is to encourage them to build friendships! One or two good friends can make a big difference, and just like adult friendships, quality is more important than quantity. Try to find ways to make space for friendships in the school year schedule. For example, you might have very busy Sundays as a family with church commitments, but would be okay with a few of your child’s friends coming over to watch cartoons on Saturday mornings. Talk to your child about what would best help them connect with their peers, and work out ways to make room for social time in their weekly schedule.
Now, you are ready to put these practical tips into effect to help your anxious child get excited about back to school!