Starting a new school year can be a time of stress and anxiety for children and parents alike. Common child stressors may include academic performance, social anxiety, bullying, transitioning to a new school and worries about fitting in. Conversely, parents often stress about the overwhelming task of managing multiple busy schedules. Here are several tips families can utilize to prepare for success this school year.
Establish Structure and Routine, and Do it Early
Children thrive when they have structure and a routine in place. Getting back into a routine – even before school starts – will help ease the transition between summer and school. Setting a schedule around bedtime, wake-up and after-school activities early on in the school year is paramount to setting families up for success.
Encourage Children to Reach Out for Help
More often than not, the fear of asking for help can be scarier than the actual act itself. Whether needing someone to talk to about mental health or seeking clarity on an assignment, encourage children to speak up. Some may find it easier to seek support outside of the immediate family. Teachers, coaches, school counselors and extended relatives are additional avenues for children outside of the family. By encouraging children to ask for help now, they will perform better in the classroom and develop an important lifelong skill.
Stay Engaged and Foster an Open Environment
Once the school year begins, chaos will quickly ensue, making it harder to check-in regularly with your child. Because adolescence is an inherently difficult time, it is important to stay engaged with your child and maintain an open line of communication. This can look as simple as a conversation at the family dinner table or setting some time aside on the weekend to talk one-on-one with your child.
Set Clear, Reasonable Expectations
Conflict amongst parents and children can often occur due to a lack of clarity around rules and expectations. Engage your child in conversations about what is expected of them and how you can best support them in meeting those expectations. Rules around phone use, curfew, household responsibilities and social gatherings will be important to communicate clearly to your children.
A new school year can be both exciting and stressful. Although it is impossible to prepare for every challenge that the school year may bring, these tips can help in setting your child up for success. Should your child need additional support or therapy, The Lovett Center is always available as a resource.
Dana Levy is a Licensed Master Social Worker and psychotherapist. She specializes in working with individuals who struggle with depression, anxiety, trauma, life transitions and relationship distress. Dana also leads a weekly adolescent progress group at The Lovett Center. To learn more about Dana and inquire about confidential help, please click here.