Tips to make 'back to school' less painful

by Katelin Whiddon

While a summer break seems imperative to children and teachers alike, the transition back to school can be a tough one for all ages. Many children do best with a routine – their set of “norms.” At times, adjusting those routines can be a huge hurdle to overcome.

Children of different ages react to back-to-school stress and anxiety differently. For some children, they may have an uneasy stomach or even make themselves vomit.  Some children may be more quiet than usual, while others may not stop talking and ask numerous questions. As parents, we should pay attention to these feelings and not discount them. Telling a child “you’ll be okay” and other similar responses does not generally calm their anxiety or lessen their fears. If your child exhibits signs of stress or anxiety, ask them specifically what they are worried about. If we try to understand how they are feeling and help them develop ways to cope, we can do the most help for our children.

One thing children dread in my office is shots. Parents know their children best and know how to prepare them for what is coming.

Some children have high enough anxiety and do best with the element of surprise, while some children, like my daughter, do best if they are prepared. You obviously cannot send a child back to school without them knowing it is coming, so discussing it with them may help calm their anxiety.

Practice your morning routine before the first day back to school, even as far as to driving to school. Schools will offer open houses and these are great times to show your child their classroom, walk them around the school, etc. so they feel more prepared to do it on their own.

In the summer, bedtimes gradually become later and kids don’t always wake up as early as they did in the school year. Starting to readjust to a school bedtime and wake-up time a few weeks before school starts will make the transition less painful for the whole family.

Of course, for the first day of school, make sure your children get a good night’s sleep and eat a good breakfast to help get them through the day. It may be a good idea to prepare to be ready earlier than needed to leave room for the delays and increased traffic that may occur that morning.

If you haven’t scheduled a check-up with your healthcare provider, call today to get on their books! All providers schedules fill up quickly and if your child requires shots, it’s time to get that planned.

Starting back to school can be stressful for children and adults alike. We should plan on bumps in the road and to expect that things will not always go exactly as planned. Children pick up on our attitudes and thoughts and will likely replicate how we respond to the back to school season. If we remain positive and try to keep this season fun for our children, they will be more likely to view it in the same manner.