Family counsellors know that there are many times of the year where change and transition cause stress for families. The beginning of the new school year is a time of excitement for some and a time of anxiety for others. Whether you are a parent, child or young adult another school year can elicit a variety of emotions.
Many students do not look forward to the new school year. Whether your child is entering kindergarten or grade 1, moving to a new school, transitioning from an elementary to high school or even going to university for the first time the fear of the unknown can cause serious anxiety that can disrupt the entire family.
Consider talking to a family counsellor or mental health professional if your family is experiencing added stress or anxiety due to back to school transitions. In addition to seeking the support of a family counsellor, consider these tips:
1. Start preparing early:
• 1-2 weeks before the first day of school start a school routine that involves the entire family. Family counsellors note that routines are reassuring for children who aren’t comfortable with change
o Go to bed and wake up close to when you will need to for school
o Eat on a regular schedule
o Prepare a quiet, neat study area
o Have your child participate in back to school shopping
• Many family counsellors suggest you do a walk-through so your child knows what to expect
o Visit a new school before the first day
o Ensure the route to school is familiar to your child
o Get class schedules prior to the first day of school
o Try to have your child schedule classes with familiar faces and friends
o If your child is entering kindergarten, consider setting up play dates with future class mates before the first day of school
o Try to have your child meet their teacher before the first day of school, so they know at least one familiar face
• Family counsellors suggest regular communication can help ease anxiety
o Discuss academic demands and extra-curricular commitments with the entire family prior to the first day of school. Revisit this discussion a few weeks into the school year to see if demands and expectations have changed
o Communicate and plan study time wisely, ensure your child has a regular study space and time set aside
o Discuss what your child is excited and nervous about. If your child expresses negativity about school, don’t discount their feelings or concerns. Instead, family counsellors recommend you focus on validating their feelings and helping to find solutions. Also, shift the discussion to the positive, such as celebrating past success. Remind your child what they did well in school last year, or what they are good at.
o If the opportunity comes up, this could be a good time to discuss important topics like how to handle bullies, peer pressure, etc.
Family counselling can help your family ease the stress and anxiety associated with back to school transitions. There are many family counselling services in the Greater Toronto Area that are qualified to help your family cope with back-to-school stress.
Dr. Dan Dalton and Associates provide Toronto family counselling services through a network of over 170 mental health professionals across Ontario. With over 100 office locations in more than 30 communities, Dr. Dalton makes mental health services accessible to families across Ontario.
Publish this article: Family Counselling Tips, Coping With Back to School Stress