Most people resist change. We take comfort in our routines. Routines build confidence. This is especially important for children, and parents are often counseled to provide firm tangible boundaries so kids know what to expect.
Heading back to school and getting into new routines often bring about as much anxiety in parents as it does in kids. So, how can we make for a smooth, stress-free transition?
Talk It Out
Take time to talk with your child about upcoming changes in the family routine. Bed time or after a bath are a great time to open a dialogue about upcoming events. Keep in mind that you may have to repeat this process, as studies have shown. During these times, it's important to give your child the chance to express things things they might be nervous about and remind them about things they can be looking forward to.
Map It Out
A trip to your child's school can offer another opportunity for reflection as well as a chance for them to visualize the experience in a positive light. Walk the route with them if that's how they arrive at school or drive a route you think the bus might take (be sure to make “stops” to pick up friends). Once there, ask your child about what they think they'll do in class, at recess or who they're looking forward to seeing when school starts.
Write It or Draw It Out
Ask younger children to draw a picture of their favorite activities or friend at school. For older children, help them make a list of things they'll do to be prepared that morning.
Remember that new circumstances and experiences can be scary for anyone. By helping your child plan, prepare and visualize the experience, you can help them feel better prepared and more confident for that first day.
For more helpful hints on how you can help your child, feel free to check out some of our past pediatric blog posts written by our pediatric team of licensed therapists: