Can you feel it coming? If your kids, or maybe you, aren't back to school yet, it is around the corner. How are you feeling about school starting this year? At my house, it is always part excitement, part apprehension, and part annoyance. My kids aren't complaining and even mentioned they are ready to go back. For me, this year is different. I won't be returning to the classroom but instead will be coaching full time and I am stoked!
However you feel about heading back to class, there is often a level of apprehension or even outright anxiousness for parents and kids that comes with a new school year. Sending your babies - even the adult ones back to school is a mashup of freedom and anxiety.
Whether you're sending your child off to kindergarten or college, back to school anxiety happens. Today, let's take time to talk about what you can do to help yourself so you can also help your kids. After all, you have to have your own mental health in check to be able to show up for others.
Today I'm sharing 5 ways you can help your student succeed and manage back to school anxiety.
1. Set Positive Expectations. Put aside your worries or past experiences and focus on the excitement that comes with a new school year. As a parent, you want to prepare your student so they are ready to tackle the year with confidence, however, when you try to manage every twist and turn of a school year in advance, you can create fears that never need to exist.
Instead, get them excited about little things like a brand new box of crayons (is there anything better, really?), their favorite lunch food, seeing their friends, learning new things, and having fun. Allow your child to head off to school and experience the first day and the entire year from their own perspective and deal with any situation that may come up using their intuition, problem-solving skills, and resources. Your student can learn those skills in real time by simply going to school and doing their thing. As they learn to navigate the year, you have the privilege of admiring the amazing little human you created mature and grow! 2. Resist the urge to call the office, the teacher, and your child when there is a hiccup unless absolutely necessary. The beginning of the school year is chaotic for everyone. There are schedule changes, rule changes, new routines, new friends, in the first week alone. Take a moment to think back over your school life, your job, or your daily routine. Have you experienced unexpected changes?
Adaptability and problem solving build flexibility and grit.
Allow your student to work through changes and find solutions on their own, trusting they are capable and supported by the teacher, office staff, and you. Of course, there may be a time when you have to call the office. If you child is being hurt or bullied, if there is a medical emergency or a dangerous situation, by all means, advocate for your child. If they don't like sitting next to Suzy or Johnny, let them deal with it. 3. Let them vent. Often, kids just need an open ear to brain dump. When I am coaching, I allow my clients to talk out their thoughts and problems while I periodically stop and question them about how they feel about the story they are telling me. As a coach, I ask these questions because I know people have everything they need inside of them to find the solutions they are searching for, sometimes they simply need to talk it out without advice.
Ask your student if they are looking for advice or simply need to talk.
Let them answer and come up with their own solutions, then offer advice or guidance only if necessary. If you've worked with me in a coaching relationship you have an advantage. You know the kinds of questions to ask and how to trust your child to come up with the answers that work best for them - just as you learned to do when we worked together. If you haven't experienced coaching, what are you waiting for?
4. Don't buy into horror stories! I repeat... don't buy into the scary predictions! If your child is fearing an unknown part of their day at school, pick up time for example, assure them that you will be there, tell them it is okay to feel uneasy, remind them you love them, then drop it. Move onto a different topic. Giving time to the story, what the worst that could happen might be, or constantly reassuring them will only amp up the fear. When you are able to redirect their thoughts to what they know is true and leave the scary stories as only a story, you are offering them a chance to work through anxious feelings and thoughts in a way that helps their brain let go of the fear.
As soon as they have tackled the situation, CELEBRATE with them! They were brave and had a great day! This also goes for parents. It is easy to come up with scary scenarios but the more we entertain them, the scarier and the bigger they get. If you are struggling anxiety or feeling less than confident, schedule a consultation with me! We'll talk about your fears, where anxiety holds you back and what you want to experience instead. We'll find other places where anxiety is sneaking in and stealing your focus, your energy, and your joy and come up with at least one way to move you forward. Coaching is an invaluable way for you to learn the skills and tools to help your child manage their anxiety as well! It's a win-win! 5. Let them do their own work. You've finished school which means you don't have to do it again, Of course you can help your child when they get stuck on a Math problem or with memorizing their Spelling words, but when it comes to packing their own lunch, keeping their things organized, and picking out their clothes, etc. that is their job.
Yes, it might be faster for you to do it for them.
Yes it might make you crazy when they don't do it your way.
That's the point though.
Help them create a plan that makes sense to them, lay out expectations, then step back and watch them shine! ✨ This school year, whether they love it or hate it, is full of learning opportunities. When it comes to school stress and giving your kids everything you've got, don't hold back on the hugs and the praise. Compliment them for their hard work, their flexibility, their bravery, their problem solving, their energy, resilience and confidence!
You've got this!
Your kids have this!
Their teachers have this!
It's time for the next great adventure and you have a front seat to the ⭐️ star ⭐️ of the show.
P.S. If you or your student is struggling with anxiety beyond the day to day struggles, don't hesitate to call a counselor at their school, at a local counseling center, or to get in touch with me so they or you can get back on track and start feeling amazing ASAP.