For many children, the start of a new school year is an exciting, if stressful, time. However, a significant percentage of children experience high levels of anxiety as the first day approaches. As their parent, you are one of the most important people in your child’s life and can help ease their minds about the upcoming year.  Here are some ways you can get started.

Start Mornings Off Positively

Begin by helping your child to start their morning on a positive note. This actually starts about a week before, when you should urge your child to start easing back into their normal school sleep schedule. A lack of sleep is a major reason why children end up stressed and irritable before the school year even begins. The first day, wake them up about 15 minutes early to allow yourselves to take your time as you follow your morning routine.  To make it easier, try packing lunch and preparing school supplies the night before.

Particularly for young children, it will also help expedite your mornings if you make sure your child understands how to follow their morning routine — wake up, make the bed, brush their teeth, take a shower, eat breakfast, etc. — before they actually need to do it. In all of this, try to seem happy and awake (you may need to get up a little earlier than your child to make this convincing). Your mood can greatly affect your child’s mood.

Conquer the Fear of the Unknown

There are a number of reasons why school may cause anxiety in your children. If your child is starting the year at a new school, the anxiety may be due to the dread of the unknown. In this case, familiarization is powerful. Explain to your child what the school will be like and what familiar faces they’ll see in the halls. Many schools host “meet the teacher” nights before the start of the actual year, which can be a great time for your child to meet his teachers and peers. Recognizing a friendly face is a simple, but effective way to counter the fear of the unknown. You can also take your child on a practice run to school so they know what to expect on the route from home. Finally, a major root cause of anxiety is the sense of a lack of control. Give your child a little bit more power by letting them choose things like the color of their notebooks and which pencil they’ll use.

Understand the Reasons for Anxiety

By paying attention in the weeks leading up to the new school year, you may be able to identify anxiety early on. If your child has started to talk back more than usual or has been complaining of headaches and stomachaches, they may be feeling anxiety. In this case, the best thing you can do is talk about it. Avoidance only allows negative emotions to bottle up — by talking about it, you can demonstrate empathy, which will help ease your child’s concerns and allow you to start troubleshooting. Remember: children always have a reason for acting out, whether it is because they feel powerless, ignored, or scared, and often one of the best things you can do to help is to listen to them.

If your child feels anxiety every year, plan for it by opening up the topic well before the first week of school. If your child still has difficulty coping, this can be a good time to talk to your child about the dangers of addiction to drugs and alcohol. Be sure they know that no matter how difficult life may seem, substance abuse is never the right way to deal with anxiety and stress.

The weeks before the school year are hectic. By staying organized, remaining positive, and listening to and validating your child’s emotions, you can start to reduce the chaos and improve your child’s attitude toward the new school year.

Post Credit : Sherwin
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