Five Ways to Beat Back-to-School Jitters
written by Katie Hurley, LCSW, posted on PBS
It’s that time of year again: Summer is winding down and families are preparing for the new school year. Whether your child is headed to kindergarten for the first time or returning for another year of preschool, the transition from summer to school is packed with emotions.
It’s perfectly natural for even the most enthusiastic young learner to feel nervous and uncertain. A new school year comes with a new classroom, a new teacher and new classmates. The classroom rules and routines are likely to change, as are the behavioral and academic expectations. It’s a lot to manage when you’re young.
Many children struggle to find the words to describe how they’re feeling when under stress, so it’s important to watch for behavioral changes. You know your child’s baseline. If your child normally falls asleep easily and sleeps through the night, but begins to struggle with bedtime or has nightmares or night wakings as the school year approaches, this is a good indicator that your child is experiencing anxiety. Other signs of stress can include the following:
- Sleep disturbance
- Changes in eating habits
- Mood changes
- Clingy behavior
- Increased frustration
- Frequent meltdowns
- Decreased social interactions
- Refusal to engage in normal daily activities
While many children will enter the first day of school without a worry, it does help to spend time focusing on the emotional needs of your child as the transition approaches. Take these steps to help your child prepare for a new school year.