Temper tantrums, tummy aches, meltdowns, and sleepless nights are an all-too-common concern for many families when summer comes to a close. Your child’s anxiety can easily become your co-parenting anxiety if you don’t manage it.
If your child suffers from back-to-school anxiety, it can make you feel pretty helpless, and create some co-parenting anxiety. This year, in particular, can cause even more anxiety if your child is starting classes online. However, there are a couple of strategies that can help set your child up for success, boosting confidence and coping skills for a healthier, happier school year.
Let the School Help
Many parents feel like they are solely responsible for figuring out how to help their kids. Thankfully, your school system has a built-in resource, waiting, and ready to help during the entire school year. Even though the ongoing pandemic is something that most of us have not experienced before, your school system should have been working on some solutions to keep your children as safe as possible. Don’t hesitate to reach out to resources there to help. School counselors typically have a master’s degree that especially qualifies them for their role. These professionals can help kids face their various emotional, personal, and social concerns, as well as any academic issues weighing on them. With that in mind, check in with your school counselor so you can help your child together, as a team.
Home Life and Habits
Sometimes simple lifestyle adjustments can make a big impact on how a child feels about school. When your child is anxious, it can in turn create co-parenting anxiety. For example, simply ensuring your youngster is getting a good night’s sleep can improve energy levels, emotional stability, focus, problem-solving, and self-control. In fact, according to some research, when sleep quality improves, school performance also improves.
If your kiddo could use a boost in the slumber department, Sleep Better suggests setting a routine sleep schedule, and sticking to it every day, even on weekends. Keep bedrooms cool and dark, and ensure everyone has a bedroom routine to help them unwind in the evening. Using electronics right before bed is a bad idea, too, so encourage your kids to set aside the video games, TV shows, and smartphones a while before turning in.
It is also very important to make sure that your child has a reserved and set up homework space. This is even more important if your child is taking online classes this fall, as it will help them focus more, and reduce anxiety.
Early Birds and Attitudes
Some kids tend to struggle more with morning crankiness than others. You might need to bump bedtime up a bit earlier, and come morning, try turning on the light in your child’s room, or opening the curtains so she wakes up naturally. Keep your own attitude about mornings and routines light as well, as kids will pick up on any negativity you carry and feel your co-parenting anxiety.
The Daily Grind
After the looseness of a summertime schedule, many kids are anxious about the transition back to a daily routine. Talk with your child and listen to her concerns, letting her know it’s normal and okay to be nervous about going back to school, and that you’re ready to help and support in whatever way you can. Set a clear schedule that will help her prepare for school each morning, and establish a time each day for homework.
Consider your child’s energy level when planning the homework timeslot, as well as after-school commitments like sports and club activities, if they are still happening. Some kids need a break right after they get home, and some peter out if they wait too long to get to work. If you try something and it doesn’t work, try another time slot. Remember that it is important to find a time that works for both your child and you. Your co-parenting anxiety will easily transform into your child’s anxiety if you do not find a time that works for you as well.
Create a Productive Space
In addition to energy and focus, kids need a space for homework that is conducive to productivity. Generally speaking, an ideal homework space will be in a low-traffic spot that’s organized and stocked with appropriate supplies. It’s important to consider the location in your home where your child works, as well as her access to materials and advice. Some of this can be age-dependent, and some depend on your child’s personal needs. This is especially important with the ongoing pandemic since your child might be spending a lot more time at home in that space, learning.
There are kids who work best off by themselves, and others who require more interaction with mom and dad. Because of this, setting up a work area at the kitchen table might work well for some children, while others will need a well-chosen desk in their bedroom. Ensure the area has appropriate lighting as well, as that can contribute to better productivity, energy, and focus.
It’s not unusual for kids to be nervous about heading back to school and develop symptoms of anxiety. Reach out to your school counselor, embrace a solid sleep schedule, set a daily routine, and ensure your child has an appropriate place to work. These simple strategies can set your youngster up for a healthy, happy, and successful school year.