First day of school anxieties: How to reassure your kids - and yourself!

August 21, 2014

It's hard to tell who's more nervous on the first day of school - kids or parents! Every year from kindergarten to college, the first day brings a new set of challenges and stomach butterflies. While you may never be able to completely alleviate your child's fears (or your own), there are steps you can take to prepare for whatever life has in store.

Talk about it
Ask your child what they're nervous about. You can probably guess what they'll say - What if the teacher is mean? What if people pick on me? What if I can't find someone to eat lunch with? All these are common concerns kids face when starting a new school year. Explain that it's normal to be nervous. Give your kids an honest opinion on how to deal with these situations, and explain that sometimes you get nervous too! It's good for young kids to know that even super-moms get nervous about unfamiliar situations.

Visit the school
A week or so before school starts, ask your kids if they want to take a ride to the school with you. Call ahead and see if you can get a copy of their class schedules and make sure there will be someone to let you in. Show your kids where they will get dropped off by the bus, and also help find their classrooms, the bathroom and the lunchroom. If they're confident about where they're going on the first day, it will be one less thing for both of you to worry about.

Make a schedule
Sit down together and plan out exactly what your children's schedules will be on school days. Include the time they'll need to wake up, when to catch the bus, their class schedule and when you'll pick them up. Make a copy, write an encouraging note on the back and send it with them on the first day. This way they'll know where they're going, and you'll know where they are, just in case you want to check up.

Get a good night's sleep
Start your kids on a normal sleep schedule a few weeks before school starts. Turn off the television earlier than usual and do a calm activity as a family. Once the kids are in bed, make a mental list of what you need to do in the morning - make lunches, pack bags, give lots of hugs - and then get yourself to bed too. Your child will be happier if well rested, and you'll be ready to handle any crisis if you got a good night's sleep too.

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