Back to School PART​ 1!

How to Take the Anxiety out of Back to School

It’s Back to school time… here in Canada anyway. There is a week left before school officially starts but anyone anticipating the first day is already feeling the pending doom.

Talk about mixed feelings.

Parents are celebrating, little ones are excited and high school students are sleeping in as much as possible. No matter what emotion is being felt, time is still a ticking’. It’s that time of year. “Back to school” has become a seasonal department in all of the stores. Its inventory can be compared to the size and variety similar to Christmas or Halloween.

At our house, we have 2 teacher and 2 little guys. It’s safe to say that no one wants the next 5 days to pass too quickly. For me, it’s time to start resetting my mental clock. It’s time to choose outfits, create lesson plans and pack the pencil cases.

Here is a list of everything we are doing at our household in order to be ready for September 4th.

  • collect fliers to find deals on back-to-school supplies.
  • Get lists of “required supplies” from Staples or other office supply store
  • Purchase school supplies and classroom supplies (see separate lists)
  • Sort through boys’ closets in order to determine what new clothing is needed
  • Donate all outgrown clothing
  • Throw always torn or stained clothing
  • Get all of our haircuts
  • Plan meals (all three meals – leave nothing to chance)
  • Clean and tidy the entire house

The Steps to follow: 

Prepare them Mentally,  Prepare them Physically, Prepare yourself. Each of these

Prepare Them – Mentally

Get to the root of their nerves. Your son or daughter, no matter what their age, they are no doubt experiencing some pre-return jitters. After a long relaxing break, the idea of going back to a daily, high demand grind can be very daunting.

Pre-school and Kinders – fears and worries are based on attachment to parents and difficulty with transition. A quiet heart-to-heart discussion (Bob Saget, Full House Style) is ideal. Get down to their level. Use the PACE method.

P – Playful. Be light about it. Playful and fun. Try no to mock or belittle. Tickle them and show them that you are there for them.

A – Acceptance. Accept your child’s fears and worries. Do not try to eliminate all fears and worries immediately. Support the child and ensure them that everything will be ok. Some fears will linger and that’s ok.  

C – Curiosity. Display curiosity. The questions asked to your child should be non-judgemental and playful. The questions can be rhetorical. The point here is not to  show your child that you are interested in knowing more about their feelings and that you care.

E – Empathy. This is different from sympathy. Empathy demonstrates that you are able to place yourself in the same headspace as your child. Knowing that he or she is not alone is very comforting.

T-chart. This is a great way to compare and contrast. It helps to put things into perspective.

CLICK HERE for an article that fully explains PACE method.

  1. Elementary school children – Fears are based on worries about having a teacher that is less-than-pleasant. They worry about being in a class without their friends.  To reduce these fears you can discuss with your child all of the possible outcomes and how each problem could easily be solved. Younger children love books and youtube videos that discuss “back to school”.
  2. High School aged Children – Fears can be based on perceived social inadequacy. Adolescents of this age are faced with many decisions and pressure with regard to their future. To reduce their anxiety and fears point out to them that they cannot possibly control everything in their lives. Have them create a t-chart. On the left they label it “I can control” and on the right “I can NOT control”. Have them list their fear and anxieties and place them in the appropriate column. They will see that they have minimal control over so many issues and the things that can be controlled just need a plan. Then make a plan.  

Ask them 3 questions:

  1. What is the worst thing that can happen?
  2. What is the best thing that can happen?
  3. What is the most likely outcome?

These questions will help your child put everything into perspective. When nervous or in anticipation of something negative happening, we tend to think of problems as sliding down a “slippery slope”, getting worse and worse on its way down.

Prepare Them Physically

Jacob (8, starting grade 3 in 4 days). He is looking nervous which displaying his new digs.

Preparing physically


  1. A new outfit and/or shoes
  2. Grooming – haircut, trim nails, deal with hygiene issues (body odor or high school age)
  3. Pack the pack, fill the pencil case

Prepare Yourself

In getting ready for the first day back to school, it is important that you are also preparing yourself. Make sure that you plan the morning routine, family member jobs, roles and expectations and even plan out the route that you will take and an alternative, just in case. We do not need a panicky parent on the first day.



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