Tips to Combat Back-to-School Anxiety

Aug 8, 2022 | Articles, Just For Parents, Parenting Tips, Summer learning, Teen mental health

Tips to Combat Back-to-School Anxiety

Can you believe it’s almost time for back to school? If you live in the northeast, you are counting down the last days of summer break that bring about the first day of school for your children. But do back-to-school thoughts bring about anxious vibes for your Little? We’ve got some tips to help prepare and decrease anxiety.

Prepare for the transition (and to decrease anxiety).

Denial is not your friend here: it’s time to embrace and prepare. Some activities to consider are to setting up a homework or study area (and buying some fun new office supplies to add a little pizazz to homework time), planning out a week of special meals for the first week of school, and even planning out the first day of school outfit and hair. Give your child control of these activities—let go of the reigns.

Get familiar (and feel less anxiety) with new routines and surroundings.

We can all be afraid of things we don’t know—there is fear in uncertainty. So do all you can to remove all uncertainties! Ask to visit the school ahead of time if it’s a new school—at a time other than the open house (when the halls will be swarming with families). Practice the walk to school if your child will have one, and practice getting up early (at school time!) the week before school so it’s not such an abrupt start.

Connect with new and/or familiar faces.

Reach out to the caregivers of your child’s friends who will be in the same class. Schedule a playdate! This will remind them of the people waiting to see them in the classroom. Is your child going to be new to the school or class? Schedule a one-on-one Zoom or face-to-face meeting with the new teacher to alleviate fears. You can also ask the teacher or administrator to connect with a friendly family ahead of time and schedule an activity or outing. It will help to know a friendly face when your child walks into a classroom of strangers.

Carve out time during the back-to-school week to combat anxiety.

During the first week of school, your child’s anxiety will most likely be at a peak. They may need some extra time and attention (even if they don’t admit it). If possible (and we realize the privilege that comes with this recommendation), try to be home when your child gets home from school. Plan some fun activities to do that week—something they can look forward to. And plan to give a few more hugs than normal.

Engage in destressing activities.

Make sure your child knows that anxiety is a normal human experience and there are strategies we can employ to manage the stress. Each person will have different strategies. For some, it’s crafting. For others, it’s playing soccer, planning and cooking healthy meals, or taking bike rides. Ask your children what they’d like to do to destress (and it may take a conversation about which activities are healthy destressing activities).

Know when to reach out to a professional.

There are times when we can help our kids work through things and there are times when we need professional help. If your child’s level of anxiety seems over-the-top or if they are engaging in activities that could harm themselves or others, contact your pediatrician. They can point you in the right direction.

Looking for some back-to-school craft activities? These are some that we’ve tried (successfully):

For further reading and additional resources:

  • This article from NPR on helping kids with anxiety
    These anxiety tips for parents from WebMD

Photo of yogi by Jared Rice on Unsplash
Photo of silhouette by Gift Habeshaw on Unsplash


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