As adults, we’ve had years of practice transitioning through change. Yet we still often handle it poorly, procrastinate, and don’t prepare adequately for successful life transitons. Unlike adults, children haven’t had years to practice successful change. A child’s developing brain prefers and responds best to routines- as much as your kiddo may try to fight it by begging for late bedtimes and ice cream for dinner. Routines help children to feel safe and grounded and can aid tremendously in taking the ambiguity and stress out of new situations. What’s more is that children tend to have less anxiety when they know what to expect, especially during stressful transitions. As a parent, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the back-to-school advice out there. Keep it simple and focus on these tips so you can successfully manage back-to-school stress and enjoy the last few weeks of summer:
ESTABLISH A SOLID SLEEP SCHEDULE
Not getting enough sleep can make kids more vulnerable to stress and more susceptible to emotional outbursts. Begin re-establishing school night bedtime at least two weeks before school starts, moving bedtime up 30 minutes per week. For example, if your child normally goes to bed at 8 p.m. during the school year but has been going to bed at 9:30 p.m. during the summer, have him or her go to bed at 9 p.m. for one week, followed by 8:30 p.m. the next week, and so on. One week prior to school starting, have your child wake up at the time as if he or she were going to attend school that day. Also be sure to make sure your kiddo is getting enough sleep; The National Sleep Foundation recommends 11-13 hours of sleep per night for children age 3-5 and 9-11 hours of sleep per night for children ages 6-13.
GET EXCITED AND GET READY TOGETHER
Make sure to involve your child in preparing for the upcoming school year. Express excitement and enthusiasm about the new school year and save any worries or anxiety you might be experiencing for a time when your kiddo isn’t present. Kids model their emotional reactions after older peers and adults so if you express excitement about the school year, your child will be more likely to adopt a positive attitude. Go school supply shopping together with a list and a budget. Attend “Back to School” events, assuring your child meets his or her teacher, knows where the classroom is, and has a general idea of what to expect on the first day. If your child’s school doesn’t offer a “Back to School” event, call the school and see if you can stop by or schedule a visit before the first day. The more information your child has, the more comfortable and confident he or she will feel about the first day. You can also practice the first day of school by doing a “dry run” of your family’s morning routine and the drive to school.
TALK ABOUT FEELINGS
Talk to your child about his or her thoughts and feelings regarding the upcoming school year. Validate and normalize any worries or fears your child may have discuss and problem-solve strategies and coping skills for success. Allow your child to make decisions about the clothes he or she will wear on the first day of school and have him or her participate in grocery shopping/lunch making and backpack packing. Having control over small decisions can aid your child in feeling more prepared and in control in new or ambiguous situations.
If your child appears highly anxious or worried about the new school year to the extent it is interfering with you family’s daily life or your child’s overall well being, Harmony At Home can help. Don’t hesitate to contact us today about specific concerns or for more great tips on how to guarantee school year success!