Summer break is almost over which means back to school season has arrived! Advertisers’ “back-to-school” campaigns are in full-effect, and a sense of excitement, nervousness, and stress begins to arise in children of all ages. As your children make the transition from a care-free fun summer lifestyle to back to school, it is important for parents to look for any red flags. Some questions you may want to ask yourself: Are they feeling anxious? Do they seem to enjoy going to school? Do they seem less active?
Most adults know when they are feeling anxious or stressed however, it may be a little harder for children to express themselves. It is important as a parent to recognize the signs of stress in teens and children. Common signals can include difficulty sleeping, headaches, stomach aches, and changes in behavior (irritability and temper tantrums). The first step in helping your child with school stress is to really listen to what’s going on with them. You can begin conversations casually over dinner, when shuttling them to and from after-school activities or for younger children, when tucking them in at night. If your child isn’t sharing their thoughts verbally, watch for non-verbal cues, or trust your instincts if your kid just doesn’t seem to be himself or herself.
Remember that you don’t need to wait until the first day of class to ask for help. Schools are open to address any concerns a parent or child might have, including the specific needs of a child, over the summer. The best time to get help might be one to two weeks before school opens.
Point out the positive aspects of starting school to help your kids look forward to the first day of class. Talk about how they will see old friends and meet new ones, for example.
Make sure you take the time to listen and ask questions. It is important for our children to be heard. At the end of the day communication is key. A strong sense of family communication will improve the functionality of many households. Keeping everyone on the same page should help to ease some of the back-to-school stress that families encounter.