Stop Back-to-school Stress
Vivian Katzenstein Friedman, Ph.D.
It's that time of year again: Summer's coming to a close, which means that the first day of school is around the corner.
Whether your children are starting at a new school or returning to their stomping grounds, heading back into the classroom can be stressful. To make things easier on your entire family, try these moves to ease back-to-school stress.
1. Hit the playground.
Before school starts up again, take your little ones to the school's playground and let them run around. It will help familiarize them with their soon-to-be surroundings; the unknown is scary for kids. If your kid is starting at a new school, it's also a good idea to take a classroom tour with her.
2. Make a play date with a classmate.
Check with the school, a teacher or your neighborhood association to find other kids who will be in your child's class and schedule a meet-up. That way, they'll both have at least one familiar face in the classroom.
3. Adjust sleep schedules.
To make the transition easier for you and your kids, a few weeks before school's start, try to wake your children up closer to the time they'll need to rise to get to school -- and set their bedtimes accordingly. Your kids should ideally be on their new schedules the week leading up to their first day.
4. Stay positive.
During drop-off, reassure your child he'll be safe at school. Remind him that his teacher will take care of him until you come to get him. Make sure that he knows the pick-up plan -- and don't be late! If he's still having a tough time saying goodbye, resist the temptation to compare him to other kids ("Look, Matt's doing just fine"). And to avoid adding more stress to the situation, don't shed your own tears in front of him -- wait until you're out of sight if you're feeling choked up.
5. Pay attention to his complaints.
It takes a child about two weeks to adjust to a new situation and for the back-to-school stress to lighten. So if her whines and complaints about school persist much longer, you may want to consider consulting a child psychologist.
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