It seems as though summer just began and now we are heading back to school! There’s a lot of emotions that arise with the new school year, and your child may experience all of these emotions at once, or cycle through them. Changes in routine are difficult to experience, and the unknown of what to expect can cause a lot of mixed feelings. Children may be excited to be reunited with friends, anxious to meet a new teacher, disappointed in the classes they were assigned, sad to separate from home, or happy to get back to learning. If your child is feeling one or all of these emotions, I can make sure you are confident in preparing them to return to school.
Things to remember as a parent:
All feelings are valid: let them know how they are feeling is okay
All behavior is a form of communication: investigate the cause
Change is difficult for everyone: we can help by preparing
Children are resilient: they will adjust
Predictability equals security: let’s make school less ”unknown”
You’ve bought the notebooks, pencils and backpack, but have you emotionally prepared your children for the new school year? It will take extra time, but include your child in organizing their school supplies, talk to them about their new teacher, ask for their favorite and least favorite thing they are looking forward to, let them pack their lunch for the first day, and maybe start some new traditions. Ultimately, you want to include your child in as many aspects of the preparation as possible. You want them to feel as though they have some control going into the new year. Children take pride in their hard work, and these opportunities to prep together will lead to conversations that will give you insight on how they are feeling. The more opportunities the child has to ask questions and discuss any underlying emotions, the more the brain will process what is to come.
Books are an excellent addition to conversations being held at home. There are several children’s books I recommend, and love to read several times leading up to the first day.
These books are great at setting reasonable expectations (making the unknown feel more predictable), addressing feelings of anxiety and separation, and normalizing the confusion of experiencing big emotions. Another great alternative is to create a story book together using details they can expect that are unique to their special first day.
Just as we have traditions to make holidays feel special, a new school year can be just as special. I love adding intentional touches of love to redirect from some of the negative feelings, and bring the focus back to how special a new school year can be. These touches of love are excellent for children with separation anxiety, hyperactivity, dysregulation, low self esteem, or just first day jitters.
Some easy ways you can add touches of love are:
Feel good notes hidden in their folder, or Knock Knock Jokes for them to find in their lunch box. Have a kiddo who isn’t reading? Draw a picture of something they love with hearts!
Matching bracelets or temporary tattoos that represent “the invisible string,” and acts as a reminder that their loved ones are at home waiting to hear about how great their first day was when they’re feeling anxious.
Textured coping stickers for children who are feeling restless or dysregulated. Practice these coping skills leading up to the first day and then paste these stickers on folders, pencil boxes, binders, inside their desk, etc. You want them to feel confident using them, and have easy access without distracting others.
A notebook with positive affirmations. The top of each page has an encouraging message to get them through their work. You can also practice positive affirmations together in the mirror before leaving for the day!
Back to school can be stressful for children, parents, teachers, and staff. However, if you spend this week preparing your child for the changes to come, help them to process and validate the variety of emotions they are feeling, and take a deep breath knowing you can confidently face this phase of adjustment, you and your child will get back into the swing of school in no time!
If your child is continuing to struggle after trying these techniques, please reach out for a consultation and more resources!
Links to products:
Positive Affirmation Notebook: Positive Self-Affirmations for Kids Children Book Journal Cards Notebook (Positive Self Affirmation Books Notebook Journal For Kids Children Series) https://a.co/d/gdmsYpj
Back to School Gifts Mommy and Me Bracelet First Day of School Matching Wish Bracelets Set for Mother Daughter Son Women Teen Girls Boys Jewelry Gift https://a.co/d/fwDtIDn
First Day of Kindergarten/School Bracelet Gift, Back to School Bracelet Mommy and Me https://a.co/d/hfYOXOj
101 Tear-Off Lunchbox Notes with Knock-Knock Jokes for Kids, Funny Inspirational Encouragement for Kids, Space to Write Personal Message https://a.co/d/gdOvxcO
Compendium ThoughtFulls for Kids – 4-Pack of You're Amazing, You Can Do It, You're Incredible, Dream Big – 120 Pop-Open Cards to Share with Kids, Each with a Different Inspiring Message Inside https://a.co/d/j1X2ZT6
50 Pieces Anxiety Sensory Strips Textured Sensory Strips Tactile Rough Sensory Stickers Adhesive Tactile Fidget Tape Textured Sensory Strips for Desk, Adults Teens Anxiety Relief Toy (Lovely Style) https://a.co/d/2hsWoXP
And Then Comes School https://a.co/d/2fFiP0U
First Day Jitters (The Jitters Series) https://a.co/d/99L7to9
The Kissing Hand (The Kissing Hand Series) https://a.co/d/6DUQzLF
The Invisible String https://a.co/d/b9nyGao