How To Manage Back To School Anxiety
Hey, Heidi Rogers here with today's 3 Minute Parenting Playbook.
I thought I would give you a tip today on returning-to-school anxiety, and how you can help your kiddos out with that. So, obviously there's a lot that goes into anxiety and managing it that I've spent a lot of hours talking about. And there's more that goes into it. I mean, we could talk about it for hours, but just in honor of 3 minutes, I just wanted to give you a couple tools that are helpful and practical in navigating a return to school.
So the first one is called, what will our play by play be? This is where we come up with a battle plan – you can download a template of this by entering your details above. But it's basically just a whole bunch of choices. It's a whole bunch of opportunity for autonomy to decide which uniform I want to wear, how I want to do my hair, what I want to have for breakfast... because things like consistency and structure help kids feel safe.
When they have a sense of empowerment and autonomy, that 'I can pick some things, like what I get for breakfast' or 'which cup I'm going to use', or which, you know, uniform style they get to wear - that makes them feel empowered. That they have some power in a very powerless kind of situation with returning to school. Consistency and structure are what kids love and that makes them feel safe. So if they can have the consistency of knowing that this is what every day / week is going to look like, that makes them feel better.
So, you can download the play-by-play sheet and it has it everything from like, 'how you want to get to school - drive, walk, bike? When you get home from school, what snack do you want?' Little things.
I know it sounds simple, but it means a lot to kids when there's something they actually have control over. They can see how it all goes down, sort of at the beginning, you know, before school, all the way to bedtime. And they can see all of the different things they actually have some autonomy and choice over, and it makes them feel a lot better about it.
And the second thing is giving them a script for the anxiety. So when they have their worry, that kind of comes up about returning to school, you can do a roleplay and coach them and kind of talk about, 'okay, well, what can we say back when that worry chimes up?' And if you watched any of my other videos, you know that we always externalize it. And we talk about the amygdala being where anxiety comes from. So, we name the amygdala and then we always try to come up with our script of what we're going to say back to it.
And then thirdly, one of my favorite tips, and it's something I do with my own kids actually, is we have a little token or a little thing that connects us.
There's a beautiful book called The Invisible String by Patrice Karst in which she talks about always being connected by an invisible string. So, for the separation anxiety kiddos out there, you have half of the, you know, necklace and they have the other half... or they have a bracelet and I wear the matching one. Or we put a photo of the family in their pocket, or we have a little crystal or a little jewel... a little treasure... something they keep in their pocket. And you know, when they get worried, they touch that and I can feel it.
You know what I say with my daughter - the necklaces we share... when she touches the rainbow necklace, I can feel that on my necklace too. And I know she's thinking about me and then I can touch the rainbow too. And then, you know, she knows I'm thinking about her. And so it's a way they can connect with you amid the going-back-to-school jitters.
That was our playbook for today is as I said, if you want the download the resource, just click the link below and I'll see you next time.