5 Ways to Nix New School Year Stress
The start of a new school year brings unique stressors for kids and parents alike. Here are some tips from ADAMH Medical Director, Dr. Delaney Smith, to help your family get through the first few weeks of transition:
- Focus on the fun. A new school year means that there will be a new groups of kids, new teachers and new experiences. These things can cause a child (or parent!) to experience anxiety, but they can also be fun new adventures. Try to help your kids focus on what they are excited for instead of what scares them. Have your child write down one thing they are excited for each day and talk to them about that experience after school. Not everything that is different is bad!
- Set a bedtime and stick to it. You don't function at your best when you're tired and neither will your kids. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that children 3 to 5 years old need 10 – 13 hours of sleep, 6 to 13 years old need 9 – 11 hours, 14 to 17 years old need 8 – 10 hours and adults (18 years old and older) need 7 – 9 hours. Make sure your schedule allows for adequate sleep to take on the day at your full potential!
- Schedule ahead. The school year isn't just an added daytime activity, school also comes with after-school activities! Make sure your family is on the same page each week by creating a visual calendar that every family member can see so you all know where each person needs to be and when. This will cut down on last minute struggles to decide which parent needs to drive to soccer practice on Tuesday or dance class on Wednesday. While you're setting up the weekly schedule, remember to set aside time for homework and family time!
- Keep your own stress levels in check. Being around people who are stressed makes us feel stressed, too. Mitigate the stress your kids feel by keeping your own stress levels low. Don't over-schedule yourself. Allow time for self-care and reflection.
- Watch for red flags. If your child has difficulty sleeping, increased or worsening headaches, frequent stomach aches or changes in behavior, there could be an underlying issue. Talk to your child about stress and anxiety. Try talking to your child's teacher and utilizing school resources to identify and solve any problems. If issues cannot be properly addressed with the help of school administrators, then consider seeking help from a mental health professional. (ADAMH System of Care providers that offer Youth Mental Health Services)
For more tips and resources, check out the On Our Sleeves - Back-to-School Guide by Nationwide Children’s Hospital.