Helping Your Child With School Stress
Early mornings, homework assignments and extracurricular activities.
It’s that time of year when calendars are coded with every color option available and weekends are filled with sports and activities of all kind. The end of those lazy summer days is long behind us as we make way for the festivities of fall.
It’s not uncommon to hit September triple digits here in Texas, but regardless of the heat, it’s exciting to notice the change of the sun that still lets us know a new season is approaching.
Change can add stress
A new season not only means a change in the weather, but it also means a change in the day-to-day life and stress of most families.
School has started around our neck-of-the-woods and extracurricular activities are just kicking up. This means that families are shuffling around schedules, carpools and learning about new teachers, coaches or maybe even new schools. Kids are getting to know new classmates, schedules, and expectations.
All of this can be exciting and scary rolled into one.
Quite often, the added stress can show up as behavior changes in our children or trouble in relationships at home. Kids might revert to old behaviors like bed-wetting, clingy-ness or tantrums.
Having an understanding that just like the weather adjusts, your child will need some time to adjust to the changes in their life is really important. It’s also helpful to have some handy tips and tools to smooth out that process.
3 Simple Ways Parents Can Help
I recently recorded a Facebook live about how children handle stress and gave some simple tips for helping anxious children adjust to the school year. In the video, which is embedded below, I outline three key tips.
Encourage mindfulnessFocus on what you can controlIncrease meaningful one-on-one time
Books Can Work Wonders for Worries
It’s also helpful to have some great books to read. Literature is a natural place for children to find characters that they can relate to. Characters who have shared experiences help to normalize difficulties, give encouragement and offer great strategies. Listed below are four books that I have found helpful when working with stressed-out kids and their parents:
Wilma Jean does worry and stress about everything at school. Julia Cook writes awesome stories for kids, parents, and educators to help children develop self-awareness and coping skills. Parent and educator note and tips in the back.
Leo is doing what Leo needs to do, but it’s different than the other animals in his class. This is a classic story of how we all develop at our own speed with support, love, and understanding.
Pout-Pout struggles through his first day of school until he finds that help is available. This story is great for practice in turning those negative self-talk statements into positive declarations.
I love this guide for older kids and parents to work through together. This book illustrates the basics of how anxiety shows up in our lives how and it can grow. It also gives useful tools for coping and avoiding ‘feeding’ it to get bigger.
When Adjustment Worries Don’t Go Away
Sometimes anxiety and behavioral changes last longer than expected. It’s important to keep in contact with your child’s teacher and build a positive relationship with their school. This can give parents good insight and support in helping their child. Schools often have resources like school counselors that can be great partners and advocates for your child.
At times, when more than school support is needed, it may help to speak with an outside professional. Lasting anxiety doesn’t tend to go away or get better on its own, so the important thing is to reach out and get help.
At Georgetown Child & Family Counseling, we specialize in family-year issues like childhood anxiety and parenting. We offer a free 15-minute phone consultation to help parents in understanding the process of counseling and if it would be the right fit for their situation.
There are many wonderful resources for parents. Plugging into some that are out there can be a great help!
Wishing you a smooth transition into the fullness of fall.
Jenna Fleming, LPC, NCC, is passionate about empowering a loving, healthy community. She is owner and clinician at Georgetown Child & Family Counseling, where it is their mission to help people reconnect with what’s important and to help children and families thrive.