by Katie Martin, Healthy Learning Paths’ Instructor
With school right around the corner, the time for schedules is now! Remember those melt downs that happen from too little sleep and too much anxiety during the early days of school? Well, if you have had that “been there and done that” experience, it’s time to give your family a head start before school is in session, especially for those of us who have gone off schedule for the summer.
The new school year stirs up many emotions for children and adults. Some kids are excited to start a new school year, but others long for never ending lazy afternoons and late summer nights. While this dream is quite normal, it is up to parents to guide children with schedules to decrease stress and anxiety and put kids on the path to school success.
Children show stress and anxiety in a variety of behaviors such as:
- Difficulty falling asleep and/or staying asleep
- Tearful with easily upset emotions
- Acting out with temper tantrums
- Being withdrawn and quiet
- Poor appetite
- Headaches or stomachaches
Recognizing these changes helps you help your child. Be supportive and let your child know that the start of something new is a challenge for all of us. Ask children how they feel and allow them to express concerns with your full attention. Full attention means without screens or other interruptions. Often children cannot fully verbalize their feelings of inside anxiety. Many kids cannot tell you why they have certain feelings, they just know those feelings are there. You can help with these Tools to be Cool tips:
- Let your child know it is okay to express how he or she is feeling
- Actively listen without screens or interruptions
- Help children express what they feel through words and facial expressions
- Practice slow deep breaths in and out through the nose as a relaxation technique
- Practice slow stretches with your child
- Model other calming behaviors for and with your child
An excellent back to school stressbuster is to practice a schedule now. Schedules help everyone transition to the new school year. Schedules set children of all ages up for success for the entire school year.
Here is what you can do to start a schedule today and throughout the school year:
- Set a bedtime routine at the same time every night
- Have certain times for meals and set a no-screen rule at the table
- Lay out clothes for the next day before going to sleep
- Have lunches packed and water bottles filled the night before
- Have backpacks and supplies ready before bed
- Healthy after school snacks in the fridge
- Outdoor activity after school
- Homework routine when they get home
Stress is common for all of us at the start of the school year. Stress is part of normal child development. Recognizing when children are stressed and helping them manage stress with support, healthy behaviors, and schedules benefits everyone. Start your schedule today and you will be rewarded by the ease of that first day of school!