The Tween Years | Easing Back to School Anxiety
As our tweens begin a new school year, many of them are a ball of emotions ranging from excitement to anxiety to terror! Here are some tips that can help ease your tween’s back to school anxiety—whether they are starting a new school or a new grade.
Take a Stroll
If your kids are starting a new school, make sure they know where the buildings, gym, and cafeteria are. Many schools offer an orientation day, but if not, check if the campus is open before the first day of school. Then, stroll around with your child so he/she can find where everything is located—make sure they note room numbers and building names, how long it’ll take to get from one part of campus to the other, from their locker to their first period of the day, etc. If you can’t take a tour, look online for a map or layout of the school and study it together. Getting comfortable with physical surroundings can be extremely helpful in easing first-day jitters.
You might have received a school supply list over summer, or your child might come home with one the first week of school. Take time with your child to go shopping for these supplies, ask them for their thoughts about what will help them stay organized. Find out if they prefer spiral notebooks or composition books, binders or folders, etc. This post on schoolwork organization for tweens is a good reference.
If your school offers a new school year picnic, orientation, or some other opportunity for your child to get to know other kids, go! Sure, it might be awkward and uncomfortable in the beginning, but it’s better to break the ice with new kids at an event. Being stuck at lunchtime staring at all new faces and wondering who you’ll sit next to is no fun. These events are a great way for kids to meet other kids they’ll have class with. There’s nothing more comforting than walking into a new class and seeing at least one familiar face.
The first few weeks of the school year can be a roller coaster of emotions for our children (and for us). Expect behavior that doesn’t seem logical—they might be abnormally quiet or overly dramatic. Don’t panic. They’re trying to process their feelings and all the new information they receive. Middle school is a lot to adjust to: new friends, new teachers, new classes, new rules, new everything! Give them time and let them know that you are there if they want to talk about anything. It’s helpful to relate stories of your experiences as a middle-schooler, or your own first day disasters. Try to insert some humor, but ultimately just let them know that they aren’t alone. Every other kid in their school is going through the same thing.