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August 20, 2018

First Day Jitters: How to Help Your Child Cope with Back to School Anxiety

Cindy Cooke, PhD, DNP, FNP-C, FAANP 

Most kids have mixed emotions about the first day of school. It’s exciting to start a new year, but fear of the unknown – teachers, classmates, routines – leaves many kids grappling with anxiety. Here are five ways to help your little one cope when nerves are keeping them up at night.

Start back to school routines early. Bump up bedtimes and wake times so she is on the school schedule before the first day.

Set her up for success. Find a friend in her class, or set up a class playdate before the first day to help soften the transition.

Do a dry run. Visit the school before the first day to scope out her classroom, lunchroom, playground, etc., so she knows how to get around.

Talk about your first day. Sharing your own childhood fears about school can help validate her concerns. Be sure to mention how you managed your nervousness and learned to love going to school.  

Ask for reinforcements. Key in your provider to her anxiety so they can talk about ways to manage her feelings.

Having first day of school anxiety is totally normal for kids, but some have it worse than others. A solid plan and good communication can help ease your little one into a great year!