Back-to-school can be an especially stressful time for both students and parents alike.
Shannon Williard, a school-based therapist from TrueNorth Wellness Services, stopped by Daybreak to talk about ways to alleviate that stress and to talk about when parents should seek help.
Williard stressed the following points:
Plan ahead to set up good habits:
-Get to sleep soon as possible. Have kids return to the nighttime schedule they’ll follow during the school year, aiming for eight hours of sleep.
-Look at and review the classroom schedule with your child before they head to class.
-Nail down your nighttime routine so children can get ready quickly and easily in the morning. Prepare snacks and lunches ahead of time. Set clothes out the night before. Set backpacks by the door along with any essentials for the school day.
-Structure and routine can prevent stress, worry and nervous jitters by letting kids know what to expect.
-Even if you started the school year without these habits, there’s no time like the present to begin!
If children are already stressed by the start of the school year, is it too late?
-If stress or anxiety has already taken over, there are things you can do to help your child reduce their symptoms.
-Don’t try to be perfect. “All or nothing” thinking can increase anxiety. Set realistic and achievable goals and celebrate wins.
-Sugary snacks and caffeine can also increase anxiety. Eating healthy meals and snacks can help, as can daily exercise through school sports or riding bikes with family or friends.
-Every child is different, so choose the routine that best fits your child. Maybe he needs a snack before homework. Maybe it works best to tackle homework right away.
-Take time to talk to your children daily. Ask them was they are really nervous about. Help your child reframe anxiety comments. Comfort, hug and love your child.
-Expressing anxiety by talking about it can reduce stress, and conversations with your child may help you discover what triggers stress for your child.
-Kids often over-generalize (always, never, none, all) so talking through issues can help to reframe issues.
-Reframing through “thought stopping” can help to find a solution.