Support Your Child & Manage Anxiety In The New School Year
Back-to-school is an exciting time of the year! New schools, new teachers, new friends and a whole new year of fun and opportunity! And while all these new things are so exciting, for some children they can be a bit overwhelming and a cause for anxiety.
For these kiddos, it’s important that they go into each school day feeling ready, supported and confident in managing their anxiety. We’ve got 6 ways to help set them up for success and help them learn how best to manage their worries.
1. Start with the basics
It’s hard to function well when you’re feeling tired, hungry or overall not so great. The same goes for our kids!
Making sure that your family has a good routine in place that ensures your child is well rested, has had a good breakfast and is organized for the day or week ahead is the first step in creating a less stressful, anxiety filled school day.
This physical wellness, and sense of stability and support, will allow your child to focus on school work, friendships and fun!
2. Set a routine and stick to it
Just like starting with the basics, creating a daily/weekly routine that your child can count on will be hugely helpful in easing worry and anxiety. Predictability is your family’s best friend!
When a child knows their routine, and knows that it will remain consistent, they will feel safe, supported and ready to focus on bigger things! Start by having a conversation about what everyone feels would work best –
- Nightly bedtime routine – What time is bedtime? What should be done before bed?
- Morning/breakfast plan – will they get their own breakfast? Will you lay everything out the night before? What foods will be stocked for breakfast each morning?
- School supplies – Will everything be put into backpacks the night before? Where should backpacks, shoes, etc. stay so you kids can always find them? Where will papers go after school?
Take some time to get your routine down, your kiddos will thank you!
3. Create an anxiety management plan for home and school
As parents, we naturally want to reassure our kids when they are feeling worried or anxious and that’s a great thing! When they know that we see and understand what they are experiencing they feel supported.
But we can take that reassurance a step farther and help create a plan with them to help manage their anxiety as it comes.
- Plan for daily “worry check ins”. Dedicate a few minutes to listen to your child, allow them to share what is worrying them, what they are feeling anxious about. Giving kids a chance to simply talk through what they are feeling can help ease those worries overall.
- Create a worry journal for your child. For older kiddos, having a place where they can write out their thoughts, feelings and worries gives them a safe space to process.
Journaling is also an opportunity for them to start to better understand what makes them feel worried and anxious. As kids get older the ability for self reflection is a very healthy part of social emotional development.
- Make a plan for when feelings of worry and anxiety creep up at school. Maybe they take a bathroom break to do some breathing or ask for a quick break to get a drink of water.
Your plan may also include partnering with school staff to help support your child. More on this later.
While you may not always be able to eliminate your child’s worry and anxiety, you can help create a plan that helps them self-manage and use strategies that make them feel better.
4. Keep open and supportive communication
Just like helping your child make a plan to manage their anxiety, keeping an open line of supportive conversation communication is an important part of the process.
Children who know that they can talk to their parents without fear of judgement or severe reaction, will feel more secure and safe facing hard situations, big feelings and worried thoughts. Remember that you are their safe space, so make sure they know you are there, ready and willing to listen and help.
5. Partner with school staff to create a plan
While it’s important to have a solid routine and plan at home to stay ahead of your child’s worry and anxiety, it’s equally important that you have created a plan for the school day as well.
For lots of kids, there will be situations that arise during the school day that will spark those feelings of anxiety. When that child knows they have a plan to feel better, the worry ABOUT worrying is lessened and they feel supported and safe.
Talk with school staff and decide small things your child can do if feelings of anxiety start to pop up – taking a bathroom break, talking with the school counselor for a few minutes, taking a walk to the water fountain, etc.
6. Stay positive and be their best cheerleader
Anxiety is scary and overwhelming for adults, so just imagine how our little ones feel as they are trying to understand, process and deal with these big feelings!
Like so many other things in their lives, the attitude and perspective we as parents have will greatly influence how they feel. And while it’s hard to see your child struggle, being their safe port in the storm will always serve them well!
If they see their parents remaining calm, positive and proactive in helping to manage their anxiety, they will feel less overwhelmed in managing it themselves!
Have questions, need more information or further support in helping your child manage their anxiety? Reach out to us at Beyond Speech Therapy Specialist and we can connect you with one of our wonderful Social Workers!