K-12 school counselor, mom, and former K-12 teacher shares some tips to Reduce Back to School Anxiety:
1. Acknowledge your child's 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. It's good to learn to shift out of "negative" feelings when desired.
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 so bad. These were movies, but the technique of focusing on positive thoughts is one of the most valuable things we can do to feel better. Give it a shot!
3. Spend some special time with your child picking out clothes or school supplies. 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" item 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. Consider finding out if your child's teacher has a preferred list of supplies before notebooks, markers, etc.
4. Talk about the fun things that will be going on at school. Help your child imagine stepping into one of those good experiences.
5. Recruit the assistance of older siblings, neighbors, etc. who have had a positive school experience. We all know that 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 to school.
7. Teachers and counselors in PreK - 8th grade use I Don't Want to Go to Kindergarten to teach students a powerful activity proving that changing our thoughts changes brain and body chemistry. Picture books often put us at ease and allow us to be more open to change. We ALL need to learn the power of changing our thoughts. It is truly a life changing skill that is useful for any transition or life challenge. FYI: You can read the electronic version FREE with PRIME or Kindle Unlimited.
Check out my Resources page. Download the reinforcement writing activities for daily use. Younger children will also enjoy creative play with the Power Penguin Puppet template.
8. Teach your child to “tap away” sadness, fear, loneliness, or other unwanted feelings. Model the technique yourself. Children learn from what they see and hear. 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 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 entire Kindergarten class. EFT "Tapping" is not a medical technique but many health care professionals now incorporate it into their practices on a regular basis. For FREE information about Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), go to Tap Into Learning with Mrs. King.
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