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Dear Lifelines: Stressed for School

Dear Lifelines,

School is starting up and my child is very anxious about going back. What steps can I take to help him?


sTreSsEd for School

Dear sTreSsEd:

There are quite a few things that you can do to help your child adjust to school. Even if your child is familiar with the school, some of these steps can be repeated in order to lower your child’s stress and help him transition back into the swing of things. I’m not sure of your child’s age, so I’ll gear this broadly for younger students.

1. Visit the playground of the school and come back for repeat visits.

2. Familiarize your child with the inside of the school even just to wander the halls, check out the washrooms and classrooms if open.

3. Visit the school website and see what programs are available that your child might qualify for/be interested in.

4. Check out playgroups in your area on Facebook and other media sites to see if your child can find a playmate before school starts.

5. Visit local parent support groups ( for many contacts for Strathmore and area)

6. Go over the school supplies list with your child and purchase them together.

7. Organize binders and school supplies and get a backpack.

8. Review your child’s timetable and provide a visual schedule plan with photos or drawings. (google visual schedules under images for many examples)

9. Provide a routine for your child so they develop a pattern before and after school (for example, every day have your child telephone grandma/grandpa after breakfast for a quick good morning and then head off for school and after school we’ll go and get the mail together).

10. Find out the bus stop in advance and make several walking trips to the stop with your child.

11. Identify the holidays and vacation times on the calendar so your child can look forward to breaks.

12. Get separated/divorced parent partners on board so everyone can be supporting your child and using positive language about school.

13. Create something for your child to focus on for the end of the school day (we will walk the dog together or go for a frozen treat after school)

14. Have your child write down their worries and then discuss them – don’t dismiss or minimize their worries. Talk about why they worry and how they feel - strategize about what might make them feel better.

15. Practice Yoga, relaxation and breathing techniques with your child. Make it a daily ritual. Three slow, deep breaths can be a quick self-calming strategy.

16. Visit the school a couple of days prior to the start in order to allow your child to meet teachers.

17. Relax and show your child how you deal with stress.

18. Emphasize the things your child has accomplished and send him/her to bed with positive thoughts about future experiences.

Best of luck for a successful school year!



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