How to Relieve Back to School Stress & Anxiety

Going back to school can be tough on parents and kids

teen student looking at class schedule on wall and writing in notebook
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Many kids and parents are feeling mounting anxiety over the approach of a new school year. From hectic mornings to last-minute projects, it can be tough on both parents and students, causing intense stress and anxiety. Here are five ways you can lessen stress:

Start Early to Prevent Sleep Loss or Insomnia

Over the summer, most families take their cues from the sun and stay up later. While it may be tempting to keep the late-night fun going up until the end, starting your school routine a few weeks early can help ease the transition back to school.

Two to three weeks before the advent of school, begin going to bed and getting up earlier and try to eat on a more regular schedule as well. This advice isn’t just for little kids; teens and adults need quality sleep for proper functioning as well and getting your schedule straight now will help prevent insomnia or sleep deprivation when school starts. Good rest can help your child better manage stress on the first day. 

Do A Walk-Through

While we’re on the topic of starting early, it’s a good idea to visit the school before the first day. For kids who are going to be first-timers for kindergarten, first grade, middle school or even high school, this can help them feel more comfortable with the new place and get a better idea of where to go once they’re there. Even for returning students, it doesn’t hurt to know where the classroom is, say hello to whatever staff is there getting ready and start getting excited about going back.

Stack The Deck

If you have any input in your child’s class assignment, it’s a good idea to ensure that there’s at least one friend in the class or classes your child will be attending. If classes are assigned without your input, talk to other parents and try to find out who your child will be sharing a class with ahead of time, and let them know.

Knowing who is in their class will give them something else to look forward to, and remind them of what they enjoy about school. If your child is entering kindergarten or first grade, it might be a good idea to have a play date with one of the children who will be in their class a week before school starts to help them feel more comfortable and get more excited about seeing their friends again in school. If you're new to the area or don't know anyone, try checking out the school's social media pages to find other parents and kids. 

Get Ready

Back to school shopping may help your child get excited for the new school year. If your child really couldn’t care less about shopping, you can make it quick and painless, but for kids who relish the annual decisions of which clothes, backpacks and other supplies to choose, it can be an easy way to ease your child into the new year. 

Along these lines, have fun preparing your child’s study area. It’s important to that your child has a comfortable, quiet place to study.

You may also want to get your routines ready; as you get back onto an earlier schedule, have your kids start laying out their clothes the night before, keeping their shoes by the door and get back into other morning habits that help you get out the door with less hassle. This can help refine your routine and make the back to school transition easier.

Talk to One Another

One of the best ways to relieve back to school anxiety and prepare for the coming year is to simply talk to your child about what he or she may be feeling. When the subject of school comes up, let your child tell you what’s exciting about school as well as what may be a little anxiety-provoking. If your child expresses some negativity about school, don’t discount immediately his or her concerns; instead focus on validating feelings. Then you can help find solutions or shift the focus to a more positive one like seeing friends, covering exciting new material and growing up. This can be an excellent time to discuss important topics like how to handle bullies, peer pressure and other important topics. Creating open lines of communication lets your child know that you’ll be available for support.

The main thing to remember in dealing with back to school jitters is to be prepared mentally and logistically.  If you show your enthusiasm for what the new school year brings, your kids are sure to pick up on it and the nervous energy will turn into excitement. 


Beilock S. Back to School: Dealing with Academic Stress. American Psychological Association. 2011. 

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