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4 Ways to Ease Your Child’s Anxiety About Going Back To School

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Heading back to school can feel stressful under any circumstance. But after spending the last year in virtual classes due to the pandemic, returning to in-person learning can feel even more daunting. For many kids, it will be their first time in a year interacting with lots of people at once. It will also be their first time navigating new health and safety protocols on campus. 

Fortunately, there are many things parents can do to help minimize their kids’ stress as they start the school year. To provide us with a few tips on how parents can help, CircleAround spoke to Jennifer Licate, a Girl Scout alum, school counselor, and author of social emotional learning books.

1.Encourage Healthy Discussions

“Many children have had a break from dealing with [school-related] stressors, which makes them feel ill-prepared to return to school,” Licate states. She recommends active listening and creating a recurring practice of discussions. This will not only clue you into potential issues your child may be dealing with, it will also make conversations feel more natural than when they occur as one-offs.

“Talk to your child and ask them if anything is worrying them about this school year,” Licate suggests. “It's good for your child to be able to talk freely about anything that's bothering them.   It'll help them develop strategies and know they have your support if anything comes up during the school year.”

2. Bond Through Reading

An innovative way to get your child talking about potential back-to-school fears is to read a book together on that subject. “Social-emotional learning books allow children to freely discuss their struggles by putting themselves in the role of the characters,” Licate tells CircleAround. “It's easier for children to bring up their concerns in relation to the characters rather than starting a conversation focused on their personal experiences.” 

3. Engage Your Support Network

Licate says there is no shame in seeking reinforcements if you see your child struggling. “Ask for help,” she advises. “If the first person you ask isn't able to help you, keep asking. You aren't alone and there are people who can support you, as a parent, and support your child.” Whether it’s another parent, a friend, a therapist, school counselor, or someone else, there are plenty of resources out there to lean on, if needed.

4. Talk to Teachers

“Parents should view their relationship with their child's teacher[s] as a partnership,” Licate explains. “You know your child in a way your child's teacher does not, but similarly, your child's teacher sees your child in a way you never will. If your child's teacher is sharing something with you, think about it and take it in. Your child's teacher may not always be correct, but know that they can provide insight that will help you help your child.”  

The Bottom Line

Back-to-school season can be exciting and scary for many kids, but there are ways you can help make it stress-free for your kids. Look to your network for help, lean on resources and books that help ease anxiety, and build a support system that works for your family. Taking these steps can help your child start the school year worry-free.

This piece is part of a series focused on helping parents prepare their kids for back-to-school. For more tips on getting organized, mastering multiple schedules, and prepping for the 2021 school year, see our full back-to-school guide.

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