Easing the Back to School Anxiety

By: Sarah Meikle/

little boy with back pack pixabaySchool is about to begin and whether you’re sending your child off to kindergarten for the first time or it’s the first day of middle school, your child may experience some understandable anxiety. Sometimes as parents we forget that children have worries just like we do. They may be worried about whether or not they will make friends or like their teachers, overthinking what to wear, or missing their parents. Whatever it may be it’s important that we validate their feeling and help them learn to work through it. I have compiled a list of suggestions that might help ease the transition and help them get through that first week of school!
Make a worry eater.   This is one of my favorites because it can work with most ages. You can purchase a worry eater or make one yourself. It can be as simple as a zip lock bag. The idea is to have your child write or draw what they are worried about and place that worry in the “eater”. This gives the child a chance to think and talk about their feelings and allows the worry eater to banish whatever it is that is making them feel anxious.
mother and son pixiabayTry to relate to your child.  This is so simple but can make a huge difference. Sometimes children don’t know how to express how they are feeling or maybe just don’t want to talk about it. Start out by talking about what made you anxious.
For example, “When I first started middle school I was worried about not finding my classrooms on time or forgetting my locker combination.  But you know what?  After the first week I really started getting the hang of it, and if I forgot my combination I just went to the office and they gave it to me again.”
school-supplies pixabayInclude your child in picking out school supplies.  If your child helped pick out their backpack or lunchbox they are going to be excited to show it off. If they were unable to pick it out themselves have them add their own touches to it with markers.
Make sure your child gets plenty of sleep.  It will be more difficult for your child to cope with anxiety if he/she isn’t well rested. Summer usually means kids stay up later and get up later. A couple of weeks prior to the first day of school start having your kids go to bed earlier each night and waking up earlier each morning. That way it’s not a complete shock to their system and they are well rested to start the first day of school.
child eating bananas pixabayEat healthy meals and snacks.  I know when I’m hungry or I eat something heavy and unhealthy I am unable concentrate as well. Make sure your child is eating a healthy breakfast like oatmeal or eggs with fruit. Put a granola bar or apple in their backpack to have between breakfast and lunch at school. This will help them focus on school and not their growling tummies!
Take time to listen and ask open-ended questions.  Make sure after each day of school you talk to your child about their day, the good and the bad. It’s important that we don’t solve their problems or tell them how to handle certain situations, but, to ask them questions to help them learn to solve the problem themselves.


Sarah Meikle is a Parent Liaison for Lenawee Great Start. She was raised in Adrian where she attended Madison Schools. She now resides in Tecumseh with her husband Andrew and two children, Camden and Kaylee.

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