Ever had the dreaded ‘Sunday Scaries’? You know, that feeling when you know Monday is so close you can almost taste it, and it keeps you from enjoying what’s left of your weekend. Well, it turns out, kids can get the scaries too! As summer winds down, back-to-school nerves can often ramp up. So, to help you ease your little one’s worries, we have put together a back-to-school guide for beating those blues. Keep reading to learn about the scaries and the best methods for helping your anxious child cope with the end of summer and the return to classes.
Is it just excitement or something more serious? Kids might get a feeling of nervous excitement to go back to school again and see their friends, start up their sport, and learn new things. This is perfectly normal! Just like butterflies in the tummy, the nerves usually subside once kids get back into the groove of their old routine. But sometimes, it can take a week or two for kids to settle in and get adjusted. They need time to remember what they like about school to start to enjoy their old habits.
If this sounds like your little one, keep an eye on their progress and do your best to address their concerns while retaining their excitement. Ask them about their worries and walk them through a plan to calm their nerves. Maybe they are worried about meeting new friends in their classes? Help them make a game plan to introduce themselves to three new students in their class. If they are nervous about a new teacher, consider offering to meet with the teacher ahead of time to help your child get more familiar with their new classroom and build a relationship with their instructor.
Maybe what your child is going through is more than just healthy excitement. If your little one appears to be truly nervous, or even scared about their return to school, it can be beneficial to set plans in place that work, helping your anxious child cope with the abrupt change. Here are a few ideas to get you started…
As fall approaches, begin the transition early. A few weeks before school starts, ease into the school year routine by getting back on a schedule. Consider setting appropriate bedtimes, starting to pack lunches, and picking out outfits the night before. Offer to set up a playdate with their friends from school to get them excited to head back and feel the support of having a peer to transition back to school with. You can even begin to practice the morning routine, drive to school, and visit their new classroom. Let them play on the playground and explore the territory on their own with space to soak it all in. As you try these methods to ease nerves and anxiety, be sure to acknowledge your child’s troubles and validate their concerns. Show them that you understand and encourage them to be open to the idea that school will be fun!
While the butterflies or the jitters tend to subside with time, anxiety can persist. As you keep a close eye on your nervous child as summer turns to fall, it can be crucial to understand when you should be worried about your child’s back-to-school nerves. Watch out for changes in your child’s normal routines. If they start to avoid activities, this could be cause for concern. Additionally, kids with anxiety might throw tantrums when they have to go to school, especially when they are separating from their parents. You might also notice that your child is having more trouble with their relationships with friends and family. Watch out for unexplainable physical symptoms such as tiredness, headaches, stomachaches, and trouble sleeping.
These are signs that your child may be experiencing anxiety about separating from parents and going back to school. If your child exhibits these symptoms of distress, and they continue, or even worsen as the first few weeks of school progress, it can be helpful to speak to your pediatrician about what your child is going through. They can help you monitor the situation, assess mental and physical symptoms, proceed towards diagnosis, and find best ways to ease your child’s anxiety symptoms. So, if you’re concerned, don’t hesitate to reach out to your pediatrician for help and advice.
At Coastal Kids Pediatrics, we are here to guide you in helping your children grow. We believe that feeling comfortable and ready to learn is a major component of success in school and happiness in life. We hope these tips are useful in helping your anxious child feel more comfortable about going back to school this fall. For specific, personal advice, do not hesitate to reach out to your passionate Coastal Kids pediatrician.