It is that time of year again where summer is drawing to a close, and the number of days until school begins gets smaller and smaller. As summer comes to a close, the anxiety of heading back to school can increase. If you notice that your teen has begun to feel anxious about going back to school, here are some ways to help your teen work through the anxiety. If you have not heard your teen talking about going back to school, it can be helpful to begin a conversation about going back to school to gauge where they are at with their comfortability and emotions about returning to school.
1. Be an Open Ear:
As a parent, the first step to helping your teen work through the anxiety of going back to school is to be an open ear and a source of support for your teen. This can start by beginning a conversation about going back to school with your teen. This can give your teen a safe space to open up about how they are feeling about going back to school. It can also be helpful to remind them that you are there to listen if they are feeling anxious about going back to school. This way, it leaves the door open for your teen to approach you if they begin feeling anxious as school starts to approach. Once your teen starts talking, it is important to put away distractions such as books, phones, or turn off the TV to ensure that your teen knows that you are present and listening.
Once your teen shares how they are feeling about going back to school, it is important to validate their feelings. Validating statements consist of words and phrases that communicate to another person that you recognize their thoughts and feelings. This can look like saying something along the lines of, “I can see why you are anxious,” or “It makes sense that you are anxious.” Other times, it can simply be by providing a listening ear for your teen without saying anything at all. This communicates that you are hearing what they are sharing with you.
3. Create a Back to School Plan:
A back to school plan can look different for everyone, but this typically consists of having your teen review their school schedule prior to the first day of school. This also means that you can go to the school before the first day of school and do a walkthrough of your teen’s classes so they are familiar with where to go for each class, where their locker will be, and how long it takes them to get to and from each class. It can also help to talk through some of the things that your teen can expect during the first day of school, such as first day of school introductions and icebreakers, as well as meeting teachers for the first time. Additionally, it can help to think ahead and create a plan of which icebreakers your teen can use. Your teen can even practice these prior to the first day of school!
4. Seek Extra Support:
Back to school anxiety is normal for teens who are returning back to a routine after having free time for themselves. If you notice your teen continues to struggle with anxiety as school progresses, or wonder if the anxiety could be more than back to school anxiety, then it is important to reach out for extra support. You can reach out to your child about talking with a school counselor, or seeing an outside therapist to help them work through their anxiety.