Addressing Back to School Anxiety

As a school counselor, mom, and former K-12 teacher, I have found that these techniques can lessen the stress related to starting school. Support each other with comments, questions or by sharing other positive strategies. I'd love to hear from you!


1. Acknowledge her feelings. Feelings are just feelings. They are not good or bad and we each have the right to them, regardless of age. We should be able to feel them without judgement or blame. How we act on those feelings is a separate issue.


The idea of starting or returning to PreK through High School may cause concern about missing parents or siblings, making friends, the new teacher, or who will be in his class. He may be afraid you will forget to pick him up. He may have heard horror stories from neighbors, TV, books, etc. Much of what children have heard is not true.


Don't say: "There is nothing to be afraid of," or "That wouldn't bother your sister."

Say: "I can see you are feeling scared. What do you think might happen?" or, "Tell me what you're afraid of."


Be sure no one belittles her with comments such as: "You're such a baby!"


Humiliation is never the answer. Your child may hide her feelings but that will not help her work through them. Instead, it will allow the "negative" emotions to fester below the surface.


Accepting your child's feelings is one way to help him find his confidence and joy. You want people to accept your feelings. Your child wants that acceptance, too.


2. Help your child think about a good memory in detail. Thinking happy thoughts literally changes our brain chemistry and helps us feel better. Do you remember Michael, Jane, and Burt floating to the ceiling when they laughed in Mary Poppins? Think about everyone singing "My Favorite Things" in The Sound of Music. The thunder storm no longer seemed sooooo bad. ;) These were books and movies, but the technique of focusing on positive thoughts is one of the most valuable things we can do to feel better and increase social and emotional intelligence (EQ).


3.  Spend some special time with your child picking out clothes for school. They do not have to be new when money is tight. Consider checking out garage sales, e-bay, and thrift stores, along with regular Back to School Sales. Swapping "like-new" clothes with a co-worker (whose children do not go to your child's school) is a creative Win-Win solution for you, your friend, and your child.


4. Talk about the fun things that will be going on at school.


5. Recruit the assistance of older siblings, neighbors, etc. who have had a positive school experience. Kids often listen more to peers than adults.


6. Read a book with your child about a character who enjoys school and/or is excited about going.


7. Read I Don't Want to Go to Kindergarten with your child. Do the Super Power Arm Activity to prove that she really does have a super power. Download the Power Penguin Puppet template from the Resources page and enjoy creative play to practice Powering-Up! Also, download the reinforcement writing activities for daily use. (Book STORE)


8. Teach your child to “tap away” sadness, fear, or other feelings he no longer wants. Model the technique yourself. Gary Craig discovered that you can “tap away” emotional pain (or limiting beliefs) just like you can rub, or tap, on physical pain. “Tapping” involves a specific technique but is pretty easy once you learn how to do it. I often use it with kids and adults to reduce stress. I taught it to a friend who used it with her Kindergarten class. It is not a medical technique but many health care professionals now incorporate it into their practices on a regular basis.


Think of EFT "tapping" as an emotional form of acupuncture. Acknowledge the problem, give yourself unconditional love, and combine that with tapping specific points on the body. This can free us to focus on the positive.

For FREE information about Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), go to Tap Into Learning with Mrs. King.


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