Six Ways to Love and Support Your Anxious Back-to-Schooler!
While I'm definitely totally stoked my kids are going back to school, I also know like most kids, it's causing them a little worry.
They head to a new school this year, and they're definitely excited to meet some new friends, share their talents and learn some new stuff - but the anxiety is still there.
When thinking about how to approach this, I want my kids to feel loved and supported and to feel empowered to consider what THEY think will make them feel good.
So here's the plan!
Thinking, and talking about the new morning routine!
We're talking about clothes they might want to wear! Little things we might add to their backpack to provide comfort over the day - those little Beanie Boo Clip things are always popular, and of course, we have a million of them! Both my kids usually want about thirty or forty minutes of playtime in the morning so we talk about how that schedule could work, and things we'll put in their lunch box.
And then, we'll write it all down for them! I'd like to say I'll get fancy with what that schedule, but seriously, I won't. It'll be on a piece of paper written in marker.
Actually DOING the new morning routine!
It's a walk to school this year and it's another thing that's exciting, but different for them! So, we're going to do the walk a few times over the next few weeks. We're also going to practice making our lunches. Both my kids like helping to make their lunch, but they are also so EFFING SLOW at making it. I see the feeling of control over this really supports how they're feeling. So...I'm just going to tolerate their utter lack of urgency on the lunch issue and we'll practice making it. We're also going to be trying on clothes ahead of time. One kid is very sensory-sensitive, and when clothes feel uncomfortable, anxiety rises, so we'll check in advance that everything is super comfy!
Getting them tools and techniques to deal with anxiety in the moment
My youngest chews when she's anxious, and so she's got a few Hoodie Chew Chew attached to her backpack, and water bottle. I also got her a robot chew necklace from my friends over at MMC. My oldest finds more comfort with little soft items from home. We have to keep the more previous items at home, the fear of losing them also causes her a lot of anxious feelings. So, little stuffies on keychains, like those mini Beanie Boos, get attached to her backpack for moments she needs comfort. They know to find and lean on those tools, and to let their teachers know if they need a little support.
Validating ALL the Feelings with HONESTY!
Yes, it's exciting. Yes, it's scary. Yes, you will make friends, but no, none of your old school friends will be there. My kids know that you can feel lots of feelings at once. They know that on the other side of discomfort and fear, is comfort and joy. It's going to be tough and everything they feel is fine and good. They also know that we believe in them and their ability to get to other side of this.
TREATS! TREATS! TREATS!
There are definitely treats ahead. They'll be eating a ton of ice-cream. Their lunchboxes will have treats and notes for them. They'll get to go pick something cool from the store at the end of the first week. They'll have lots of familiar and fun things to look forward to over the week.
MISSION: Find a friend!
This one is on me! I just put a couple of posts up in some community Facebook groups so we can try to arrange a quick "Hi!" before school starts in a couple of weeks. Everything I've read says that just one familiar face will ease the school transition and make the adjustment easier.
What are doing to support your kids with any anxiety around heading back to school?