Reducing back-to-school stress for parents and kids

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Back-to-school is one of the most exciting times of year for many. It also has the potential to be one of the most stressful.

Two things – fear and lack of time – combine to create stress, according to Jennie Watson, LSCSW, School-Based Services Team Leader.

“The start of school can be scary. Will the schoolwork be too hard? Are the other kids going to be nice? Will this be a successful school year?” she explained. “There are so many unknowns.”

Time also creates pressure: “There are a lot of things to do and not enough time to do them all.”

Watson offered four practical tips for making the beginning of the school year less nerve-racking.

  • Get back into a routine, especially the kids' sleep schedule, and get started a couple of weeks before school starts. Once school starts, be sure to include “fun time” each day.
  • Read to your kids. If your kids can read, have them read to you. It will make a world of difference.
  • Don’t try to do everything yourself. Have your kids help with things like meal prep, vacuuming and other jobs.
  • Find people – grandparents, neighbors, other parents – who can help with things like carpooling and getting kids to and from activities. Having help takes a lot of pressure off.

Watson said that parents shouldn't hesitate to ask for help if their child is having a hard time getting their back-to-school bearings or struggling with behavioral problems. Early intervention heads off potential problems before they become serious.

She said. “If you’re unsure about your child's behavior, talk to the school counselor to see what they think. Remember: We're looking for changes in the 'norm' for that particular child, and we need to figure out if their behavior interferes with their functioning at school."