The summer is over, and kids are trading in the beach bags for backpacks. But while going back to school can be exciting, it can also be stressful. Fears of the unknown, worries about bullies, and the dread of homework assignments can leave children with anxiety. How can you help your children make a smooth transition back into school? Here are some tips to help reduce back-to-school stress.
Over the summer, your children have most likely grown accustomed to later bedtimes. Ease kids back into the earlier bedtime habit by gradually moving bedtime back a little each night the week before school starts. Establishing a bedtime routine, such as reading a story or having a glass of milk, can help your child unwind for a good night’s sleep.
The morning routine goes smoother when it begins the night before. Laying clothes out at night will save looking for missing socks or doing last minute ironing in the morning. Pack lunchboxes and make sure completed homework assignments are in the book bags the night before. In the morning, get up ten minutes earlier to allow a buffer for the unexpected. Delegate tasks – such as making breakfast and walking the dog – among members of the family to help everyone get out the door sooner.
Nutrition and Exercise
A well-balanced diet and regular exercise are great stress-reducers. Allowing time for breakfast will give children the fuel they need to start the day and will help them perform better in class. Sending nutritious foods in your child’s lunchbox and providing healthy afternoon snacks will help establish good eating habits essential for well being. Exercising at least 15-20 minutes daily keeps kids physically fit and provides a way to relieve stress.
Set aside a specific time and place each afternoon for children to do their homework. The kitchen table or a desk in the home office may work best for homework since there may be a number of distractions in the child’s bedroom. Set daily time limits on television, Internet, and video games and reserve these privileges for when homework is finished.
In today’s fast paced world, children are suffering from jam-packed schedules like their parents, leaving them stressed out with activity overload. Help your children learn to lead a balanced life by limiting their number of extracurricular activities. Playing soccer, taking dance lessons, and learning karate are all good things, but be sure your child has a genuine interest in what he or she is doing and is not doing it for your benefit. Children need down time to play, goof off, and have quiet time to relax.
Talk With Your Children
Kids starting school for the first time or transferring to a new school may be frightened by the fear of the unknown. If possible, take your child to visit the school ahead of time to help know what to expect. Another worry many children face is bullies. Talk to your child about this, coaching him or her how to handle the situation should it arise. Having a plan of action can alleviate much of the anxiety. Spend time each day talking with your children – at the dinner table, in the car, or at bedtime – letting them tell you about their day and share concerns they may have.
Going back to school is a time of adjustment, which can naturally create anxiety. But by keeping the lines of communication open with your child and modeling a positive attitude, you can help your child minimize stress and get excited about all the good things the new year will bring.