First Day of School Anxiety – 7 Tips for Parents

English: Signs & Symptoms of Anxiety
English: Signs & Symptoms of Anxiety (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So my son has anxiety about the first day of school.  This year is worse than normal because his resource teacher didn’t come back.  So we have to “break in” a new teacher.  I think that he will do well, it is just going to take time for him to adjust.

Their are key points to transitioning through the anxiety.  Points that we have found successful in years past.

  1. Don’t force the child to go to school.  504’s and IEP’s are made for a reason.  If necessary get the anxiety added to the education plan.
  2. Don’t minimize the way the child feels.  By making light of the way they feel, you can actually affect their already fragile self-esteem.
  3. All things in time.  We gradually increase the length of each day by 15 minutes.  Then reward the positive behavior.
  4. Ensure that the child understands that they are still responsible for the school work that they are missing.
  5. Allow the child the opportunity to voice how they feel.  Don’t minimize the tears.  We likely won’t understand how the child feels, but we don’t need to make them feel worse because they are crying.  School can be daunting without having anxiety.
  6. Ensure that the school understands what is going on.  They should be supportive and encourage learning.
  7. The last thing that I can recommend is that the child needs to know who they can turn to when the anxiety hits them.  They need to know that how they feel is perfectly normal.  If possible identify two staff that they can approach.  In our case it is the teacher, and the principal.  If the teacher is absent, they can see the superintendent.

Anxiety doesn’t have to mean the end of the school career.  It is a matter of making the child comfortable, and showing them that their concerns are real.  Moving forward, you can gradually plan for each year of schooling.  A good start to the year is having the child walk through the building before the first day of school, identify classroom(s) that they are in, and plan the best route to each.

If you are of mind to, please add any tips in the comments below.




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