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How to help your kids deal with back-to-school jitters

©iStockphoto.com/Chris Bernard Photography Image by: ©iStockphoto.com/Chris Bernard Photography Author: Canadian Living

Family

How to help your kids deal with back-to-school jitters

Are your kids nervous about going back to school? Ease their fears and doubts with our expert tips for helping your kids deal with back-to-school jitters.

It's just about that time again, when summer comes to a close and your kids have to start thinking about heading back to the classroom. With the return to school often comes nerves, concerns and a bit of fear about what the new school year will hold. While it's understandable for kids to be apprehensive about summer ending, there are a few simple ways to relieve their anxiety.

Tamara McPherson, founder of wondermoms.ca, a parenting resource and online community for families, says it's important to prepare your children for the return to school before the first day. That way you can ease them back into a daily routine and give them the confidence they need to head back to class without any stress about impending homework, new teachers or making new friends. Here are her suggestions.

1. Let your kids take charge
Take your children shopping for back-to-school supplies and allow them to choose everything themselves. "I print off my children's school supply list and allow them to pick out their own supplies, backpacks, lunch bags and labels within a budget I set," says McPherson.

Her reasoning? "I find if my children are allowed to make their own decisions, they are less likely to rebel against going back to school, and it eases their nerves." Kids are also more likely to be careful with their belongings when they picked them out themselves.

2. Role-play
Once the school supplies have been purchased, why not suggest playing school as a way to get your kids psyched up for the real thing? Have your children walk around wearing their bags, pack their supplies, read their new books or play with their new school items as a way to get them more comfortable with the idea of going back to class, says McPherson.

"We allow their imaginations to ease the stress," she explains. "This also builds the independence which is required at school."

3. Create comfort
If your child is going to a new school, practise walking or driving to the building a few weeks or days before, suggests McPherson. "This allows them to ease into the new routine."

Point out familiar landmarks on the way, and have them get used to the neighbourhood. She also suggests playing at the school playground leading up to the first day of class. This creates fun memories associated with the school before the summer vacation ends. And the playground becomes something they can look forward to when heading back to school.

4. Let it out
One of the best ways to beat back-to-school stress is through creativity.

"Children express fears and stress through art; therefore, having them draw pictures of their school, friends and classroom routines in the summer may alleviate some stress or back-to-school jitters," says McPherson.

This is also a great way to keep their minds busy and focused more on creativity and less on their worries. If your kids aren't the artsy type, you can rent fun school-themed movies. By having them see other kids enjoying their school experience, your kids can grow more comfortable with the idea.

5. Build up break time
At first, kids might not love the idea of having free time at recess and lunch, especially if they don't know many people at their school. Help them look forward to lunch by asking them what special food they would like to pack for back to school.

"Visit your grocery store and allow them to pick out healthy snacks and lunch items," suggests McPherson. You can even take the last few days before school starts to come up with some creative snacks and sandwiches that are sure to get eaten.

"As a mother of four, I have learned that kids need to have input in their routines, and this lessens the battles. I do pick my battles, but having happy, healthy children makes this mom happy," says McPherson. Follow her lead with the above tips to help your kids feel like they are in control of the situation.

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How to help your kids deal with back-to-school jitters

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