Feeling nervous about the first day back to school is only natural – for both children and parents/carers. But it is important that parents and carers put on a brave face to help their child/ren manage their worries. Their anxiety is sure to fade as the school year goes on if you can help them get off to a good start.
Here are some tips on how to steel those first day nerves:
It’s important to remind your child/ren that they’re not the only ones who may be feeling nervous about starting school again. Other students are just as likely to be nervous about the first day of school. You can also reassure them that the teachers and staff will know that many of their students will be anxious and will probably spend time helping students feel more comfortable as they settle into the classroom.
Your children may be caught off-guard by their nerves on the first day back. They think they should be excited to see their friends and get back into a routine, but they can’t seem to shake that anxious feeling. Keep in mind that living through the pandemic may have accentuated feelings of anxiety. On the night before returning to school, sit down with your child/ren and explain to them it’s OK to feel tense, these are warranted emotions. Tell them to practise compassionate self-talk; everyone will adjust at their own paces.
If your child feels overwhelmed, you can teach them a simple breath exercise they can do anywhere to slow their heartrate and steady their breath. All they need to do is breathe in through their nose, into their tummy for a count of 4, hold that breathe for a count of 3 and then breathe out of their mouth for a count of 5. Repeat this three, or four times and it will provide a sense of calm and grounding.
When we’re nervous or anxious we tend to get lost in our thoughts. We can catastrophise – where we imagine the worst thing that could happen or feel panicky with a torrent of thoughts going through our mind. Encourage your child to journal at the end of the day or do something creative – this could be singing a song or having a dance around the living room. When we exercise our creative minds and bodies it short-circuits overthinking.
That early morning alarm clock is looming, and it might not be pretty! To make the move from holidays to a return to school as smooth a transition as possible, set earlier bedtimes and wakeups that line up with what you’ll be doing on your first day back. Resetting a sleep routine won’t happen immediately, it’s useful to work in 15- and 30-minute increments to nudge toward that 6am (or earlier!) start.