With all the shopping, back to school nights, and the anxiety of a new teacher with a different mix of friends in class, children can often find heading back to school each fall a stressful experience. Dads can do a lot to help children deal with these anxieties and to be better prepared and better behaved as the school year starts again.
1. Be available to talk and listen.
The single best way to allay any child’s fears or stress is to keep the lines of communication open. Make time for the kids as school approaches. You might want to take a walk, go for a drive, or just sit by their bed at bedtime or when they awaken. Ask questions like, “How do you feel about school starting again?” or “What do you think things will be like your first day back to school?” Then listen and offer advice.
2. Divert their stress.
As in any stressful situation, dwelling on our anxieties can create a negative emotional environment. Plan some fun activities with the family or alone with your child as school time approaches. Activities that involve a little physical exertion are usually best to dissipate the feelings of stress.
3. Help them prepare for friendships.
Find out which of their friends will be in their school class as school begins and then invite them over to your house or plan an activity with both families. Helping your child connect with children in their classroom is a good way to eliminate back to school stress.
4. Practice the school routine.
I remember how I felt as my first year in junior high approached. How would I find my classes and get to class on time? What about a P.E. class where I actually had to change out of school clothes and into shorts and a tee-shirt for gym class? My dad took me up to the school about a week before when schedules were handed out and we walked my six period schedule over and over until I felt better. Helping children prepare to walk to school, ride the bus, or carpool will also help eliminate some of the unknowns.
5. Start sleep and eating patterns before school starts.
About two weeks before school, start acting like school has already started in terms of going to bed, getting up, and eating meals. Rules are often relaxed during the summer months, but start establishing the new routine early. It will be second nature once school starts.
6. Call for help.
Sometimes the anxieties associated with school can be a real burden. If your child is having a hard time, communicate with teachers, administrators, and school counselors. If you feel a need for some therapy, contact your employee assistance program, a school counselor, or your clergy for help.
7. Have a connection at school.
Finally, staying connected at school can really help your child feel a connection with you during the day. Consider joining the PTA or serving on the school’s community council or volunteering at school. You could even join an All Pro Dad’s Day chapter.
Taking time to prepare and spending time communicating with your child will help ease the stress associated with heading back to school for both children and parents. What are some of the ways you ease your child’s back to school stress?
Originally published at http://fatherhood.about.com/od/backtoschool/a/btsstress.htm.