Change is hard for anxious kids. Whether it’s a change in schedule, a change in schools or a change in friend groups, anxious kids would rather things stay the same than for them to change.
The start of school creates an abundance of change for anxious kids. After a summer of unstructured time and freedom, the start of school requires kids to adjust to a new teacher, a new schedule, a new group of classmates and a slew of new expectations. Adjusting to these changes creates lots of anxiety for kids.
What is my teacher going to be like?
Who am I going to sit by?
Will my friends be in my class?
Will my teacher be strict?
Will my teacher like me?
These are common worries for anxious kids around the start of school. Your child may be talking to you about these worries (if he’s an Outward Processor) or he may keep them inside (if he’s an Inward Processor) but regardless, he will have a number of worries surging through his mind. If this sounds like your child, keep reading. These suggestions will make the first day go much smoother.
ADVICE ON HOW TO HANDLE 1ST DAY ANXIETY:
1. Go by and see your child’s new classroom ahead of time. It would also be great if he could meet his teacher, spend some time in the classroom and get a feel for how the classroom is arranged before the first day of school.
2. Keep a busy schedule until the 1st day of school. There’s nothing worse than days on end to think about how the new year will pan out. Instead, keep your child busy so he doesn’t have so much time to worry. Plan fun activities, sleep overs, play dates, etc. to keep him occupied until school begins.
3. Do something fun the morning/afternoon of the first day of school. This may include a trip to the bakery on the way to school and/or a stop at the ice cream shop on the way home. Both serve as something to look forward to and are great ways to help kids get over the hump of the first day. Instead of worrying about who he’s going to sit by, he’ll be picking out a donut. In the middle of the day when he starts feeling anxious, he can think about the trip to the ice cream shop afterwards.
The goal of the 1st day is not for kids to be without any anxiety. Most kids are a little apprehensive on the first day, anxious or not. The goal is to create an environment where kids feel supported so that they’ll be able to settle into the the new school year as quickly as possible.